Is airway inflammation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) a risk factor for cardiovascular events?

COPD. 2006 Dec;3(4):233-42. doi: 10.1080/15412550600977544.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a very common cause of death in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Smoking is a well-described risk factor for both COPD and CVD, but CVD in patients with COPD is likely to be due to other factors in addition to smoking. Inflammation may be an important common etiological link between COPD and CVD, being well described in both diseases. It is hypothesized that in COPD a "spill-over" of local airway inflammation into the systemic circulation could contribute to increased CVD in these patients. Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) have well-documented anti-inflammatory effects and are commonly used for the treatment of COPD, but their effects on cardiovascular endpoints and all-cause mortality have only just started to be examined. A recent meta-analysis has suggested that ICS may reduce all-cause mortality in COPD by around 25%. A case-controlled study specifically examined the effects of ICS on myocardial infarction and suggested that ICS may decrease the incidence of MI by as much as 32%. A large multicenter prospective randomized trial (Towards a Revolution in COPD Health [TORCH]) is now ongoing and will examine the effect of fluticasone propionate in combination with salmeterol on all-cause mortality.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications*
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Prognosis
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / mortality
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / pathology
  • Respiratory Mucosa / pathology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • United States / epidemiology