Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is among the most common lung diseases. It makes breathing difficult. Now researchers find a simple heart disease risk test can help determine the long-term prognosis for COPD patients.
Dr. Hwa Mu Lee and Nathan Wong of the UC Irvine Heart Disease Prevention Program found that individuals with moderate to severe COPD who had a low Framingham Heart Study 10-year risk assessment rate lived longer and healthier than COPD patients who scored high on the heart test.
Study results point to the importance of cardiovascular health for those with COPD and strongly suggest that heart disease risk evaluations be part of the diagnostic and treatment procedures for lung diseases such as emphysema and bronchitis that affect 64 million people worldwide and are the third-leading cause of death in the U.S.
"There is a close connection between COPD and cardiovascular events like heart attacks, but too often physicians who see COPD patients do not assess the impact of heart disease risk factors as part of a treatment plan," said Lee, associate research director of the UCI program and an assistant clinical professor of medicine specializing in pulmonary and critical care.
"We're learning that addressing cardiac risk factors may significantly improve outcomes in persons with COPD," added Wong, program director and a professor of cardiology and epidemiology. "The connection between these two diseases is underappreciated."