Heart Health and COPD

Heart rate control helps COPD patients live better

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) don't just need to worry about their lungs. In order to maximize the quality of life, they also need to monitor their heart health.

Controlling high resting heart rates through heart-related treatments can ensure that COPD patients have a higher quality of life.

"See a cardiologist if you suffer from COPD."

Arnoldus J.R. van Gestel of the Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Switzerland said  investigators have sought to pinpoint the main causes of poor life quality in COPD patients to improve their health status. He said the recent research showed that the nervous system, which controls the heart rate, plays an important role in the decrease in quality of life.

Limited data is available to indicate what determines the quality of life of COPD patients, though it is known that patients often have high resting heart rates and reduced heart rate variability.

To find out if heart health played a role, Swiss researchers studied 60 COPD patients. Patients took questionnaires and monitoring devices were used to measure their heart rates.

Heart rate variability measures how the heart adjusts to varying levels of demand, with reduced heart rate variability suggesting an impaired ability of the heart to alter its own beat frequency.

They found a significant association between patients' quality of life scores and their heart rate variability with those with a low quality of life tending to have reduced heart rate variability.

Additional studies are needed to determine the precise role of heart rate variability, though the study suggests that heart testing and follow up treatments could aid the overall well being of COPD patients.

The study was recently published in the journal Respirology.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 19, 2011
Last Updated:
October 22, 2011