Blog: COPD and Cardiovascular Disease, Are You at Risk?

Blog: COPD and Cardiovascular Disease, Are You at Risk?

If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you should be aware that you are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

COPD and heart disease share risk factors (age and smoking are the biggest two) and symptoms, espe­cially shortness of breath. COPD and atherosclerosis (disease of the artery walls) are both associated with inflammation in the body. Furthermore, because the right ventricle of the heart pumps blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen, poor lung function from COPD can affect the right side of the heart.

There is a high rate of overlap between the two diseases and, although experts are not sure of the extent of this overlap, they do agree it is worrisome. Heart disease is difficult to diagnose in patients with COPD, often delaying appropriate medical treatment.

Why it matters:

Because COPD may produce symptoms that are similar to heart disease, people with COPD may not realize they have heart disease, or seek treatment for heart disease, until it’s too late. Furthermore, im­paired lung function is a strong predictor of cardio­vascular mortality.

How many of these cardiovascular risk factors do you have?

  • I have COPD.
  • I am overweight or obese.
  • I don’t get enough physical activity.
  • I have high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes.
  • I smoke cigarettes or use tobacco products.
  • I have a family history of heart disease.
  • I am over 45 (men) or over 55 (women).
  • I already have heart disease.

Talk to your doctor TODAY.

Your doctor can help you prevent heart disease. Ask your doctor:

  1. What are MY risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and why?
  2. What screenings or tests are right for ME?
  3. What actions can I take to decrease MY risk for cardiovascular disease?
  4. What are the right cardiovascular disease health goals for ME?

Fast Stats:

  • Approximately 15 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, and as many as 24 million may actually have COPD.
  • COPD is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Cigarette smoking, the most common cause of COPD, is associated with a 50 percent in­creased risk of heart failure.
  • COPD patients, especially those who have heart failure, are at increased risk for hospitalization and death due to cardiovascular disease.
  • More women than men die from COPD, and women are more often misdiagnosed.

If you feel that you are at risk, talk to your doctor. To schedule an appointment, please call 888-452-IRMC (4762).

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