Predictors of cardiovascular disease in asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Multidiscip Respir Med. 2013 Sep 3;8(1):58. doi: 10.1186/2049-6958-8-58.


Background: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a common comorbidity in patients with chronic airway obstruction, and is associated with systemic inflammation and airway obstruction. The aim of this study was to evaluate the predictors of CVD in two different conditions causing chronic airway obstruction, asthma and COPD.

Methods: Lung function tests, clinical and echocardiographic data were assessed in 229 consecutive patients, 100 with asthma and 129 with COPD. CVD was classified into: pressure overload (PO) and volume overload (VO). Sub-analysis of patients with ischemic heart disease (IHD) and pulmonary hypertension (PH) was also performed.

Results: CVD was found in 185 patients (81%: 51% COPD and 30% asthmatics) and consisted of PO in 42% and of VO in 38% patients. COPD patients, as compared to asthmatics, had older age, more severe airway obstruction, higher prevalence of males, of smokers, and of CVD (91% vs 68%), either PO (46% vs 38%) or VO (45% vs 30%). CVD was associated with older age and more severe airway obstruction both in asthma and COPD. In the overall patients the predictive factors of CVD were age, COPD, and male sex; those of PO were COPD, BMI, VC, FEV1 and MEF50 and those of VO were age, VC and MEF50. In asthma, the predictors of CVD were VC, FEV1, FEV1 /VC%, and PaO2, those of PO were VC, FEV1 and FEV1 /VC%, while for VO there was no predictor. In COPD the predictors of CVD were age, GOLD class and sex, those of VO age, VC and MEF50, and that of PO was BMI. Sub-analysis showed that IHD was predicted by COPD, age, BMI and FEV1, while PH (found only in 25 COPD patients), was predicted by VO (present in 80% of the patients) and FEV1. In subjects aged 65 years or more the prevalence of CVD, PO and VO was similar in asthmatic and COPD patients, but COPD patients had higher prevalence of males, smokers, IHD, PH, lower FEV1 and higher CRP.

Conclusions: The results of this study indicate that cardiovascular diseases are frequent in patients with chronic obstructive disorders, particularly in COPD patients. The strongest predictors of CVD are age and airway obstruction. COPD patients have higher prevalence of ischemic heart disease and pulmonary hypertension. In the elderly the prevalence of PO and VO in asthma and COPD patients is similar.