Although obstructive lung disease (OLD), which includes COPD, affects all the populations, Hispanics seem to be protected against COPD development and progression. Whether this advantage translates into a survival benefit for this population is unknown. We aimed to determine the risk for OLD in Mexican Americans, the largest US Hispanic subgroup, compared with non-Hispanic whites and to assess all-cause mortality in subjects with OLD.
We assessed the relationships between Mexican American ethnicity and spirometric OLD and risk of death among 6,456 US adults aged ≥ 40 years who participated in the Third National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey Follow-up Study. We used logistic and Cox regression analyses to estimate the OR for OLD among Mexican Americans and the hazard ratio (HR) for all-cause mortality among Mexican Americans with OLD, respectively.
After adjustment for demographic factors, socioeconomic status, and COPD risk factors, Mexican Americans had decreased odds of OLD diagnosis compared with whites (OR, 0.72 [95% CI, 0.54-0.95]). Among the 1,734 participants with OLD, 1,054 (60.8%) died during median follow-up of 12 years. In an adjusted model, Mexican Americans had no advantage in mortality from all causes (HR, 0.88 [95% CI, 0.69-1.13]). After accounting for the fact that some Mexican Americans may have moved back to Mexico and died there (thus, had no US death certificate), there was still no difference in mortality between these groups.
Although Mexican Americans appear to have lower risk for OLD, subjects of this ethnicity with OLD do not seem to have a survival advantage.