Associations between emphysema-like lung on CT and incident airflow limitation: a general population-based cohort study

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Emphysema on CT is associated with accelerated lung function decline in heavy smokers and patients with COPD; however, in the general population, it is not known whether greater emphysema-like lung on CT is associated with incident COPD. We used data from 2045 adult participants without initial prebronchodilator airflow limitation, classified by FEV1/FVC<0.70, in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Emphysema-like lung on baseline cardiac CT, defined as per cent low attenuation areas<—950HU>upper limit of normal, was associated with increased odds of incident airflow limitation at 5-year follow-up on both prebronchodilator (adjusted OR 2.62, 95% CI 1.47 to 4.67) and postbronchodilator (adjusted OR 4.38, 95% CI 1.63 to 11.74) spirometry, independent of smoking history. These results support investigation into whether emphysema-like lung could be informative for COPD risk stratification.

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