Elevated arterial stiffness in patients with COPD can be predicted using age, blood pressure and thoracic aortic calcification, according to research published in BMC Pulmonary Medicine.

“Cardiovascular morbidity and mortality is high in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and arterial stiffness is a potentially modifiable risk factor with added predictive value,” the authors wrote.

As part of the study, researchers measured aortic pulse wave velocity (aPWV) in 153 patients with moderate to severe COPD. Mean age was 63.2 (SD 8.2) years and mean FEV1 was 55.4 (SD 15.2) % predicted.

Approximately half of the patients were active smokers. Of the 153 patients, 101 had moderate COPD as defined by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD COPD stage II) and 52 had severe COPD (GOLD stage III-IV).

Subjects were categorized into quartiles based on aPWV values and factors affecting high arterial stiffness were assessed. Multivariate models were created to identify independent predictors of high aPWV, and cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Compared to the quartile with the lowest aPWV, subjects in the highest quartile were older, had higher systolic blood pressure (SBP), were more likely to be current smokers, and had greater burden of thoracic aortic calcification, according to the study.

On multivariate analyses, age (adjusted OR 1.14, 95%CI 1.05 to 1.25, p = 0.003) and SBP (adjusted OR 1.06, 95%CI 1.02 to 1.09, p = 0.001) were independent predictors of elevated aPWV. Body mass index, therapy with cholesterol lowering medications and coronary calcification were independent predictors of CVD.

The results will help identify subjects for enrollment in clinical trials using aPWV for assessing the impact of COPD therapies on CV outcomes, researchers concluded.