Introduction: In the Western world, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is predominantly caused by long-term smoking, which results in pulmonary inflammation that is often associated with systemic inflammation. A number of co-morbid conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, muscle wasting, type 2 diabetes and asthma, may coexist with COPD; these and other co-morbidities not directly related to COPD are major causes of excess morbidity and mortality.
Aim: This review sets out to explore the most frequent co-morbidities in COPD and their implications for treatment.
Method: Review of the literature on co-morbidities of COPD.
Results: Co-morbidities are frequent, but often remain undiagnosed in the COPD patient. In order to provide the best possible care for people with COPD, the physician should be aware of all potential co-morbidities that may arise, and the critical role that effective management of these co-morbidities can play in improving patient outcomes.
Conclusions: Increased awareness of the potential co-morbidities of COPD, although potentially adding to the general practitioner's work burden, may provide insights into this difficult disease state and possibly improve each individual's prospects for effective management.