Dr. Hwa Mu Lee and Nathan Wong of the University of California, Irvine, Heart Disease Prevention Program found people with moderate to severe COPD who had a low Framingham Heart Study 10-year risk assessment rate lived longer and healthier than COPD patients who scored higher on the heart test.
The Framingham heart risk assessment uses recent data to estimate 10-year risk for "hard" coronary heart disease outcomes -- heart attack and coronary death. The tool is designed to estimate risk in adults who do not have heart disease or diabetes.
Lee and Wong examined the severity of COPD in 6,266 U.S. adults age 40 in relation to their 10-year cardiovascular disease risk.
Study results point to the importance of cardiovascular health for those with COPD and strongly suggest heart disease risk evaluations be made part of the diagnostic and treatment procedures for lung diseases such as emphysema and bronchitis.
"There is a close connection between COPD and cardiovascular events like heart attacks, but too often physicians who see COPD patients do not assess the impact of heart disease risk factors as part of a treatment plan," Lee said in a statement.
The findings were published online in the journal Chest.