Feature Article

COPD and CVD. The heart of the matter

Benjamin Nguyen, Belinda Cochrane

Figures

© dan kosmayer/shutterstock
© dan kosmayer/shutterstock

Abstract

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) are frequently associated, with worse outcomes when the two coexist. Hence, it is crucial that patients with coexisting COPD and CVD are managed effectively.

Key Points

  • Globally, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is ranked third.
  • COPD is also the third leading cause of total disease burden in Australia.
  • COPD and CVD are frequently associated, resulting in worse outcomes than for either disease on its own.
  • The diagnosis of CVD in patients with COPD can be elusive due to overlapping symptoms, interacting pathologies and challenges to diagnostic testing as a result of hyperinflation and dyspnoea.
  • Medications for CVD improve survival but patients with COPD miss out on crucial cardiac therapies due to concerns about exacerbating COPD symptoms, even though the existing evidence suggests that such concerns may be unwarranted.
  • CV death remains a major cause of mortality in patients with COPD; therefore, CVD should be aggressively treated, particularly as our treatments for COPD remain largely symptomatic.

Figures

© dan kosmayer/shutterstock
© dan kosmayer/shutterstock