Heart and Lungs in COPD. Close friends in real life - separate in daily medical practice?
AbstractChronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with a 2-3 times higher rate of cardiovascular disorders (CVD) which is independent of other risk factors. A low FEV1 is a specific predictor of mortality as a result of cardiac causes, even stronger than increased cholesterol: for each 10% reduction of FEV1, cardiovascular mortality increases by 28%. The main causes of death among COPD patients are of cardiovascular origin. COPD and CVD have two major risk factors in common - advanced age and tobacco smoking. The search for a pathogenetic link between the two conditions focuses mainly on systemic extension of pulmonary inflammation. Despite such a frequent association, pulmonologists and cardiologists in both the clinical and the research settings often underestimate the importance of a correct diagnosis and severity stratification of the two combined conditions. Spirometry, in particular, is largely underprescribed. Missed diagnosis and severity stratification, incomplete knowledge of adverse drug events and lack of resources lead to undertreatment of patients combining COPD and CVD, and in particular, the underuse of beta-blockers, inhaled bronchodilators and rehabilitation. Clinical studies focusing on this group of patients should be promoted in the future to test therapies and manage options. Furthermore, efforts must be made to improve the present standards of care, which falls short of recommended levels, starting from the often-neglected use of spirometry to confirm a diagnosis of COPD.
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