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COPD May Increase Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death

COPD is third leading cause of death in the world

WEDNESDAY, April 29, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is already the third leading cause of death in the world, and the condition might also raise a patient's odds for sudden cardiac death, according to a new study published online April 28 in the European Heart Journal.

The research involved 13,471 people aged 45 and older, 1,615 of whom were diagnosed with COPD. Over the course of the study, 39 percent of the participants died. Of those deaths, 551 were related to sudden cardiac death. Breaking it down even further, the researchers found that 15 percent of those who died of sudden cardiac death had COPD. Overall, a diagnosis of COPD increased the risk for sudden cardiac death by 34 percent (age- and sex-adjusted hazard ratio [HR], 1.34).

The researchers found the risk to be even higher at five years after diagnosis (age- and sex-adjusted HR, 2.12), and higher still for COPD patients with frequent exacerbations (age- and sex-adjusted HR, 3.58). The study participants with COPD who experienced sudden cardiac death were more likely to die during the night, the researchers said.

"The most important way to prevent COPD and sudden cardiac death is not to smoke and to have a healthy lifestyle," study coauthor Marieke Niemeijer, M.D., of the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, Netherlands, said in a journal news release. "If a person does develop COPD, then this is even more important, as smoking [and] an unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle have been proven to increase the risk of sudden cardiac death."

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