What are COPD Comorbidities?

This blog post was written by Dr. Byron Thomashow.

Comorbidities, or other chronic medical conditions, can include cardiac disease, osteoperosis and muscle weakness – all common for individuals with COPD.

Many people have comorbid conditions but we don’t know why people develop these problems. We don’t understand why these things are common in people with COPD.

The importance of these comorbid conditions in COPD is becoming increasingly clear.

“Dr. Byron Thomashow If one looks at the cause of death in COPD, most of these deaths appear to be related to cardiovascular disease, malignancy, and pneumonias. The majority of COPD patients are dying with their COPD not directly from their COPD.

Likewise, comorbidities are a common cause, or a contributing cause, to many COPD related hospitalizations. Comorbid conditions often have a dramatic impact upon the lives of those suffering from this disease.

The greater the number of comorbidities, the greater the shortness of breath. This should not be a surprise. If two patients have similar severity of COPD, but one is in addition suffering from significant arthritis, that patient is going to be more limited. Arthritic complaints, sinus disease, cardiovascular conditions, depression were among the more common conditions reported.

There also increasing evidence that COPD is an independent risk factor for many conditions including cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, osteoporosis and depression.

Potentially contributing factors could include the age of the COPD population (older people tend to have more other conditions), cigarette smoking (most with COPD smoked and cigarette smoking is associated with numerous complications), medication interactions (COPD medications can be associated with palpitations, cataracts, glaucoma, urination difficulties), or oxidative stress.

Are you living with multiple conditions? Have questions? Find support by connecting with us on COPD360social, or call our C.O.P.D. Information Line at 1.866.316.2673.


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  • Hiya Dr. Thomashow. I sure miss you and thanks for this article. My favorite pulmonologist!