Background: Cardiovascular diseases are prevalent in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We hypothesized that endothelial dysfunction could be a marker of the proatherogen status in COPD.
Methods and results: We measured endothelial dysfunction by flow-mediated dilation (FMD) and after sublingual administration of nitroglycerin (nitrate-mediated dilation: NMD) in 44 COPD patients and 48 controls. Compared with controls COPD patients had worse mean FMD (5.4% vs 8.2%, P < .001) and NMD (12.0% vs 13.9%, P = .007). FMD was inversely related to FEV1/VC ratio (r = -0.327, P = .030). The negative association between COPD and FMD was confirmed after correction for potential confounders in a multiple linear regression model (beta = -0.019, P = .002). In the same model NMD (beta = 0.396, P < .001) was positively associated with FMD.
Conclusions: Endothelial-dependent and, to a lesser extent, endothelial-independent dilations are significantly impaired in COPD, and the impairment is proportional to the severity of bronchial obstruction.