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COPD Patients Face Greater Risk of Heart Failure, Study Says

Blacks with lung condition were most vulnerable of all, researchers report

WEDNESDAY, May 21, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- People with the lung condition known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have a significantly increased risk of developing heart failure, and the risk is highest among black patients, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed more than 386 million hospital patient discharge records in the United States from 2001 through 2010, including more than 33 million COPD patients aged 40 and older.

Nearly 29 percent of COPD patients had heart failure, compared with 13 percent of patients without COPD. The researchers then analyzed the data by race and found that about 35 percent of blacks with COPD had heart failure, compared with about 15 percent of blacks without COPD.

Among whites, nearly 29 percent of those with COPD and nearly 13 percent of those without COPD had heart failure. Among people of other races, the rates were about 25 percent and 11 percent, respectively, the investigators found. In cases where race was not reported, the rates were about 28 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

Among patients aged 40 to 59, heart failure occurred in 18 percent of those with COPD and about 5 percent of those without COPD. The rates among those aged 60 to 79 were about 27 percent and 14 percent, respectively. Among those aged 80 and older, the rates were about 39 percent and 24 percent, respectively, the study authors noted.

The study also revealed that patients with both COPD and heart failure had longer hospital stays, higher in-hospital death rates and were more likely to be discharged to long-term care facilities than those with COPD alone.

The study was presented at the American Thoracic Society's annual meeting, which concluded Wednesday in San Diego. Research presented at meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

"The co-existence of COPD and heart failure, which share common symptoms, may pose diagnostic and therapeutic challenges," study corresponding author Dr. Marilyn Foreman, from the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, said in a society news release.

"The long-term effect of both diagnoses over time remains to be determined," she added.

The association between COPD and heart failure seen in the study does not prove a cause-and-effect link.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about COPD.

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, May 18, 2014
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