Aims: Heart failure (HF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) frequently coexist and present major challenges to healthcare providers. The epidemiology, consultation rate, and treatment of patients with HF and COPD in primary care are ill-defined.
Methods and results: This was an analysis of cross-sectional data from 61 primary care practices (377 439 patients) participating in the Scottish Continuous Morbidity Recording scheme. The prevalence of COPD in patients with HF increased from 19.8% in 1999 to 23.8% in 2004. In 2004, the prevalence was similar in men and women (24.8% vs. 22.9%, P = 0.09), increased with age up to 75 years, and increased with greater socioeconomic deprivation (most deprived 31.3% vs. least deprived 18.6%, P = 0.01). Contact rates for HF or COPD in those with both conditions were greater than disease-specific contact rates in patients with either condition alone. Although overall beta-blocker prescribing increased over time; the adjusted odds of beta-blocker prescription in patients with COPD was low and failed to improve [odds ratio 0.30 (0.28-0.32), P < 0.001]. In 2004, only 18% of individuals with HF and COPD were prescribed beta-blockers vs. 41% in those without COPD.
Conclusion: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a frequent comorbidity in patients with HF and represents a significant healthcare burden to primary care. Although beta-blocker prescribing in the community has increased, less than a fifth of patients with HF and COPD received beta-blockers.