From the Journals

Risk of cardiac events jumps after COPD exacerbation



Acute exacerbations in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease could also trigger a cardiac event such as MI or stroke, particularly in older individuals, new research has found.

In Respirology, researchers report the outcomes of a nationwide, register-based study involving 118,807 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who experienced a major adverse cardiac event after an exacerbation.

They found that the risk of any major cardiac adverse event increased 270% in the 4 weeks after the onset of an exacerbation (95% confidence interval, 3.60-3.80). The strongest association was seen for cardiovascular death, for which there was a 333% increase in risk, but there was also a 257% increase in the risk of acute MI and 178% increase in the risk of stroke.

The risk of major adverse cardiac events was even higher among individuals who were hospitalized because of their COPD exacerbation (odds ratio, 5.92), compared with a 150% increase in risk among those who weren’t hospitalized but were treated with oral corticosteroids and 108% increase among those treated with amoxicillin with enzyme inhibitors.

The risk of a major cardiac event after a COPD exacerbation also increased with age. Among individuals younger than 55 years, there was a 131% increase in risk, but among those aged 55-69 years there was a 234% increase, among those aged 70-79 years the risk increased 282%, and among those aged 80 years and older it increased 318%.

Mette Reilev, from the department of public health at the University of Southern Denmark, Odense, and coauthors suggested that acute exacerbations were associated with elevated levels of systemic inflammatory markers such as fibrinogen and interleukin-6, which were potently prothrombotic and could potentially trigger cardiovascular events.

“Additionally, exacerbations may trigger type II myocardial infarctions secondary to an imbalance in oxygen supply and demand,” they wrote.

The authors raised the question of whether cardiovascular prevention strategies should be part of treatment recommendations for people with COPD, and suggested that prevention of COPD exacerbations could be justified even on cardiovascular grounds alone.

“Studies investigating the effect of cardiovascular treatment on the course of disease among COPD exacerbators are extremely scarce,” they wrote. “Thus, it is currently unknown how to optimize treatment and mitigate the increased risk of [major adverse cardiovascular events] following the onset of exacerbations.”

However, they noted that prednisolone treatment for more severe exacerbations may have a confounding effect, as oral corticosteroids could induce dyslipidemia, hypertension, and hyperglycemia, and increase long-term cardiovascular risk.

Six authors declared funding from the pharmaceutical industry – three of which were institutional support – unrelated to the study.

SOURCE: Reilev M et al. Respirology. 2019 Jun 21. doi: 10.1111/resp.13620.

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