Background: Lung disease accounts for most of the mortality in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). Lung transplantation is an option for patients severely impaired, being recommended when life expectancy is estimated to be <2 years. Our objectives were to evaluate in our patient population the validity of currently accepted criteria for low life expectancy and to identify other potentially useful criteria.
Methods: Data were retrieved from CF patients followed up at our center who reached and kept an FEV1 <30% predicted. A life table was created and stratified according to characteristics believed to be of importance. In addition, the rate of decline in percent predicted FEV1 was analyzed. These characteristics were evaluated as predictors of risk of death.
Results: The median survival was 3.9 years (95% confidence interval, 2.88 to 4.12 years), with no significant differences according to gender, nutritional status, presence of diabetes, or decade in which the patient was cared for. Only by age was there a significant difference in the median survival (p<0.05). By proportional hazards regression, only the rate of decline in percent predicted FEV1 was a significant predictor of the risk of death, with a borderline effect from younger age (p=0.06).
Conclusion: In our patient population, a cutoff value of FEV1 of <30% predicted is not a reliable predictor of high risk of death within 2 years. The yearly rate of decline of percent predicted FEV1 is a better parameter to identify those patients at high risk for death.