Cardiovascular health and heart disease can affect how long a COPD patient may live. While COPD affects the lungs, the heart's health is important for every aspect of life.
According to researchers, doctors tend to not focus on cardiovascular risk factors for COPD patients. Using a quick test that determines 10-year cardiovascular risk could help improve the lifespan of COPD patients.
"Ask your doctor about ways to improve cardiovascular disease risk."
The study was led by Nathan D. Wong, PhD, and Hwa Mu Lee, MD, from the University of California at Irvine Heart Disease Prevention Program. The researchers studied 6,266 American adults with COPD who were over 40 to determine if there was a link between cardiovascular risk and COPD severity.
Researchers used a test that was developed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) as part of the Framingham Heart Study. The study involved participants, between the ages of 30 to 74, who did not have cardiovascular disease at the start of the study. The test assessed 10 year risk but researchers followed the participants for 12 years.
The Framingham Heart Study used previously established risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. These risk factors include age, weight, smoking, diabetes, systolic (maximum) blood pressure, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and BMI.
Researchers used this test, which can be completed online, to evaluate cardiovascular disease risk factor for patients with moderate to severe COPD.
Patients who had a low score lived longer and were healthier than patients who had a high score using the Framingham test.
Heart health is obviously important to every individual but is especially important to COPD patients. In addition to this study, current studies are looking at cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins as a way to help reduce inflammation caused by COPD. Statins are commonly used for heart patients.
Improving heart health can make individuals healthier and can eliminate certain strains on the lungs. Losing weight and quitting smoking can help improve lung function. Monitoring heart health and cardiovascular disease risk for COPD patients may become a part of the general screening process.
The study was published in the May edition of Chest.