The relationship between interstitial lung abnormalities, mortality, and multimorbidity: A cohort study

Jason Leigh Sanders, Gisli Axelsson, Rachel Putman, Aravind Menon, Josée Dupuis, Hanfei Xu, Shuai Wang, Joanne Murabito, Ramachandran Vasan, Tetsuro Araki, Mizuki Nishino, George R. Washko, Hiroto Hatabu, George O'Connor, Gunnar Gudmundsson, Vilmundur Gudnason, Gary M. Hunninghake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Interstitial lung abnormalities (ILAs) are associated with increased mortality. It is unclear whether multimorbidity accounts for the mortality association or how strongly ILA is associated with mortality relative to other common age-Associated diseases. We determined the association of ILA with all-cause mortality adjusted for multimorbidity, compared mortality associated with ILA and prevalent cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer and also determined the association between ILA and these diseases. Methods: We measured ILA (none, indeterminant, definite) using blinded reads of CT images, prevalent chronic diseases and potential confounders in two observational cohorts, the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) (n=2449) and Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility-Reykjavik Study (AGES-Reykjavik) (n=5180). We determined associations with mortality using Cox proportional hazards models and between ILA and diseases with multinomial logistic regression. Results: Over a median (IQR) follow-up of 8.8 (1.4) years in FHS and 12.0 (7.7) years in AGES-Reykjavik, in adjusted models, ILAs were significantly associated with increased mortality (HR, 95% CI 1.95, 1.23 to 3.08, p=0.0042, in FHS; HR 1.60, 1.41 to 1.82, p<0.0001, in AGES-Reykjavik) adjusted for multimorbidity. In both cohorts, the association of ILA with mortality was of similar magnitude to the association of most other diseases. In adjusted models, ILAs were associated only with prevalent kidney disease (OR, 95% CI 1.90, 1.01 to 3.57, p=0.0452) in FHS and with prevalent CVD (OR 1.42, 1.12 to 1.81, p=0.0040) in AGES-Reykjavik. Conclusions: ILAs were associated with mortality adjusted for multimorbidity and were similarly associated with increased mortality compared with several common chronic diseases. ILAs were not consistently associated with the prevalence of these diseases themselves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number218315
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • clinical epidemiology
  • idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
  • imaging/CT MRI etc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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