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27-10-2010 | Respiratory | Article

Risks for major comorbidities in COPD patients elucidated


Free abstract

MedWire News: Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are nearly five times more likely to have cardiovascular disease (CVD) or suffer a stroke than the general population, study results show.

"People with COPD are at high risk of hospitalization and death from CVD and cerebrovascular disease, and at increased risk of diabetes mellitus (DM)," write Johanna Feary (University of Nottingham, UK) and team in the journal Thorax.

However, they add: "Despite this, there is a paucity of data to quantify the degree to which these diseases coexist in COPD."

To investigate further, the researchers examined the primary care records of 1,204,110 members of the general UK population, aged at least 35 years on 25 February 2005, to identify all those diagnosed with one or more of the above conditions.

Overall, 29,870 (2.5%) patients had COPD. Of these, 28.0% had CVD, 9.9% had suffered a stroke, and 12.2% had DM, compared with 7.8%, 3.4%, and 6.5%, respectively, of the study population without COPD.

Cross-sectional analyses revealed that the risk for CVD, stroke, and DM was significantly greater in COPD patients than in those without the condition, at odds ratios (ORs) of 4.98, 3.34, and 2.04, respectively.

Further age-related analyses that accounted for gender and smoking status revealed that the risk for acute arteriovascular events associated with COPD was greatest in younger patients. For example, COPD patients aged 35-44 years were 10.34 times more likely to suffer acute myocardial infarction and 3.44 times more likely to suffer a stroke than COPD patients aged 75 years or older.

Feary and team conclude: "These data provide further evidence that, to improve patient care, health service models for people with COPD and national guidelines need to recognize the extent to which these conditions are co-incident.

"It also provides additional evidence that, at the time of diagnosis of COPD, healthcare professionals must be proactive and, where appropriate, must seek to promote early diagnosis and treatment, and aggressively target risk factors in order to reduce the risk of premature mortality."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Mark Cowen

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