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COPD Flare-Up May Raise Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke

Findings show need for treatment even when pulmonary disease looks stable, researchers say

MONDAY, May 10, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Worsening of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) leads to increased risk for heart attack and ischemic stroke, a new study finds.

British researchers looked at 25,857 COPD patients and identified 524 heart attacks in 426 patients and 633 ischemic strokes (blockage of blood flow to brain) in 482 patients. The patients who suffered heart attack or stroke had significantly higher rates of worsening (exacerbation) of COPD.

The study also found a 2.27-fold increased risk of heart attack one to five days after COPD exacerbation and a 1.26-fold increased risk of stroke one to 49 days after COPD exacerbation.

The findings suggest that patients with COPD in both the stable and exacerbation states require treatment to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, the researchers concluded.

The study is published in the May issue of the journal Chest.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about COPD.

SOURCE: American College of Chest Physicians, news release, May 2010
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