COPD and Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are arguably the most important comorbidities in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). CVDs are common in people with COPD, and their presence is associated with increased risk for hospitalization, longer length of stay and all-cause and CVD-related mortality. The economic burden associated with CVD in this population is considerable and the cumulative cost of treating comorbidities may even exceed that of treating COPD itself. Our understanding of the biological mechanisms that link COPD and various forms of CVD has improved significantly over the past decade. But despite broad acceptance of the prognostic significance of CVDs in COPD, there remains widespread under-recognition and under treatment of comorbid CVD in this population. The reasons for this are unclear; however institutional barriers and a lack of evidence-based guidelines for the management of CVD in people with COPD may be contributory factors. In this review, we summarize current knowledge relating to the prevalence and incidence of CVD in people with COPD and the mechanisms that underlie their coexistence. We discuss the implications for clinical practice and highlight opportunities for improved prevention and treatment of CVD in people with COPD. While we advocate more active assessment for signs of cardiovascular conditions across all age groups and all stages of COPD severity, we suggest targeting those aged less than 65 years. Evidence indicates that the increased risks for CVD are particularly pronounced in COPD patients in mid-to-late-middle-age and thus it is in this age group that the benefits of early intervention may prove to be the most effective.
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