Background: The leading comorbidities and causes of death in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. The aim of this study was to establish the incidence of lung cancer, myocardial infarction and heart failure in patients with COPD in UK primary care.
Methods: The General Practice Research Database (GPRD) was used to identify a cohort of 1927 patients with a first recorded diagnosis of COPD. This cohort was followed for up to 5 years to identify new diagnoses of lung cancer, myocardial infarction and heart failure. Mortality was also assessed. The relative risk (RR) of each outcome in the COPD cohort was compared with that in a control cohort with no diagnosis of COPD.
Results: The risk of lung cancer was significantly increased in individuals with a diagnosis of COPD compared with those with no COPD diagnosis (RR: 3.33; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.33-4.75; adjusted for age, sex and smoking status). A diagnosis of COPD was also associated with a significant increase in the risk of heart failure (age- and sex-adjusted RR: 2.94; 95% CI: 2.46-3.51) and death (age- and sex-adjusted RR: 2.76; 95% CI: 2.45-3.12), but not myocardial infarction (age- and sex-adjusted RR: 1.18; 95% CI: 0.81-1.71).
Conclusions: Patients with a diagnosis of COPD are at significantly increased risk of lung cancer, heart failure and death compared with the general population. They do not appear to be at increased risk of myocardial infarction.
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