Background. COPD exacerbations have negative impact on patients' survival. Several risk factors for grave outcomes of such exacerbations have been descried. Muscle dysfunction and mass loss were shown to impact negatively on prognosis and survival. Low activity of the enzyme ALT (Alanine amino-transferase) in the blood is a known indicator for sarcopenia and frailty, however, no previous studies addressed the association of low ALT amongst patients hospitalized due to COPD exacerbation and long-term survival.
Methods. This is a historic prospective cohort study of patients hospitalized due to acute COPD exacerbation.
Results. Included were 232 consecutive COPD exacerbation patients. The median time of follow-up was 34.9 months (IQR 23.13 – 41.73 months). During this period 104 (44.8%) patients died. All patients were grouped to quartiles according to blood ALT levels (after exclusion of cases considered to have hepatic tissue damage (ALT > 40 IU)). The risk of long-term mortality increased, in a statistically significant manner, amongst patients with low ALT values: the median survival of patients with ALT < 11 IU was 18.5 months only while the median survival for the rest of the study group was not reached. For ALT < 11IU; 12-16IU; 17-20IU and >21IU the mortality rates were 69%; 40.9%; 36.3% and 25% respectively (p < 0.001 for comparison of lower quartile with upper three quartiles). The crude hazard ratio for mortality amongst patients with ALT levels lower than 11IU was 2.37 (95% CI; 1.6 – 3.5). This increased risk of mortality remained significant after adjustment for age, weight, creatinine, albumin concentration and cardiovascular diseases (HR = 1.83; 95% CI 1.08 – 3.1, p < 0.05).
Conclusions. Low ALT values, a biomarker of sarcopenia and frailty, are associated with poor long-term survival amongst patients hospitalized due to COPD exacerbation.