Increased cardiovascular risk in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and the potential mechanisms linking the two conditions: a review

Cardiol Rev. 2013 Jul-Aug;21(4):196-202. doi: 10.1097/CRD.0b013e318279e907.


Cardiovascular diseases, especially coronary artery disease (CAD), are the leading causes of death in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). There is a high prevalence of common risk factors in the COPD/CAD patient population including smoking, sedentary lifestyle and low socio-economic status. However, various studies have shown that airflow limitation is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Chronic low-grade systemic inflammation, oxidative stress and increased platelet activation have been widely reported to be pathophysiological links between COPD and atherosclerosis. Statins and inhaled corticosteroids have been investigated as potential therapeutic interventions in COPD that may lower cardiovascular risk. The goals of this review are to examine the evidence for increased cardiovascular risk in COPD patients, the possible mechanisms linking these two chronic conditions, to discuss possible predictors or markers of poor outcomes among patients diagnosed with both COPD and CAD, and the therapeutic options aimed at reducing cardiovascular risks associated with COPD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / drug therapy
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Platelet Activation / physiology
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Risk Factors


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors