Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a novel risk factor for cardiovascular disease

Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2005 Jan;83(1):8-13. doi: 10.1139/y04-116.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in Canada and elsewhere. It affects 5% of all adult Canadians and is the fourth leading cause of death. Interestingly, the leading causes of hospitalizations and mortality among COPD patients are cardiovascular events. In the Lung Health Study, over 5 800 patients with mild to moderate COPD were studied. Forty-two to 48% of all hospitalizations that occurred over the study's 5-year follow-up period were related to cardiovascular complications. Various population-based studies suggest that independent of smoking, age, and gender, COPD increases the risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality twofold. Alarmingly, some bronchodilators, which are commonly used to treat symptoms in COPD, may increase the risk of cardiovascular morbidity and even mortality among COPD patients. In this paper, we discuss the epidemiologic evidence linking COPD and cardiovascular events as well as the potential mechanism(s) which may be responsible for this association.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bronchodilator Agents / administration & dosage
  • Bronchodilator Agents / adverse effects
  • Bronchodilator Agents / therapeutic use
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors


  • Bronchodilator Agents