Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or people with reduced lung function are at serious risk of developing cardiovascular disease, according to the findings of a new study presented yesterday at the European Respiratory Society’s Annual Congress in Amsterdam. The findings suggest that people with COPD and reduced lung function should be routinely screened for cardiovascular disease.

According to the authors of the study, while it is common for patients to have both heart disease and COPD, it is largely unrecognized by doctors because of the overlapping clinical manifestations. COPD diagnosis can remain unsuspected in people with heart disease, but having both conditions can lead to a much worse outlook for the individual.

Prior to this study, very little epidemiological evidence linking the two conditions existed. This study, however, is the first to identify that nasal symptoms and cardiovascular disease are common in people with COPD and could link the two conditions.

The researchers collected data on nasal symptoms and cardiovascular disease from 993 patients with COPD and 993 without COPD. In the latter group, the patients were divided into two categories—those with normal lung function and those with restricted lung function. Of the patients with COPD, 50.1% had cardiovascular conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and hypertension. By comparison, 41% of patients with normal lung function had these comorbidities.

The results showed that nasal symptoms were common in patients who had both COPD and heart disease compared to patients with normal lung function—53% of patients with COPD and heart disease had nasal symptoms compared to 35.8% in patients with normal lung function and heart disease. In addition, 62.2% of patients with both restricted lung function and heart disease had nasal symptoms, demonstrating that the symptoms could be used as a marker for identifying increased risk of heart disease and COPD in people yet to be diagnosed with either condition.

Source: European Lung Foundation