Risk of heart disease rises with COPD

October 10, 2011

A study presented here at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) 2011 Annual Congress shows that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or reduced lung function are at a significantly increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Data on 993 patients were drawn from the Obstructive Lung Disease in Northern Sweden (OLIN) studies, together with 993 gender- and age-matched reference subjects without COPD. The subjects were followed by annual examination.

The researchers found that CVD (heart disease, hypertension, stroke, claudication) was more prevalent in patients with COPD compared with controls with normal lung function (50.1% vs 41.0%, p<0.001). In addition, they found that the combined prevalence of angina pectoris, heart failure, and MI was 18.5% and 13.7% (p=0.006) in individuals with COPD and those with normal lung function, respectively. Having both conditions might lead to a far worse outlook for patients.

The finding that patients with COPD have a high risk of CVD fits in with previous studies. This comorbidity has also been shown previously to be associated with higher mortality. Probably there is a common causal factor, affecting both the lungs and the vessels, namely smoking.

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