Experts weren't surprised, since smoking often contributes to the respiratory disease and heart trouble
WebMD News from HealthDay
By Mary Elizabeth Dallas
WEDNESDAY, April 29, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is already the third leading cause of death in the world, and a new European study finds the respiratory illness might also raise a person's odds for sudden cardiac death.
COPD is a progressive and incurable illness that involves a combination of emphysema and bronchitis, and is often tied to smoking. The researchers said that the disease has already been associated with an increased risk of heart disease and sudden cardiac death in certain high-risk patient populations.
Now, the new study "shows that COPD is a risk indicator for sudden cardiac death in the general population, and that the risk increases with COPD severity," wrote a team led by Dr. Lies Lahousse, a postdoctoral researcher at Ghent University Hospital in Belgium.
One expert in the United States said that even though the study can't prove that COPD helps trigger sudden cardiac death, the European findings aren't surprising.
The new study involved more than 13,000 people aged 45 and older, more than 1,600 of whom were diagnosed with COPD.
Over the course of the study, 39 percent of the participants died. Of those deaths, 551 were related to sudden cardiac death. Breaking it down even further, the researchers found that 15 percent of those who died of sudden cardiac death had COPD.
Overall, a diagnosis of COPD increased the risk for sudden cardiac death by 34 percent, the team concluded.
Five years after being diagnosed with the lung condition, however, that risk nearly doubles, according to the study published online April 29 in the European Heart Journal.
After five years of living with COPD, the risk for sudden cardiac death becomes more than threefold higher for people who suffer frequent COPD symptom flare-ups, such as shortness of breath and coughing, the findings showed.
source : COPD Tied to Raised Risk for Sudden Cardiac Death