Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a long-term lung condition that makes breathing difficult. People with COPD often have comorbidities, which refers to other medical conditions.
COPD is a term that describes two long-term conditions that interfere with airflow in and out of the lungs and make it difficult for someone to breathe. These conditions include chronic bronchitis and emphysema — most people with COPD have both. In the United States, COPD affects about
In severe cases, COPD
The article below explores what COPD comorbidities are and discusses five possible COPD comorbidities in more detail. It also discusses when to speak with a doctor.
Comorbidities are common in people with COPD. The authors of a 2018 study of 1,584 people with the condition found that roughly
COPD and some of its common comorbidities share similar risk factors, such as smoking. The condition also causes systemic inflammation, which can affect other organs and increase a person’s risk of developing certain comorbidities.
Someone with COPD may have one or more of a range of comorbidities. The following sections discuss five potential COPD comorbidities in more detail.
Congestive heart failure refers to when the heart cannot pump blood efficiently to meet the body’s needs. In the U.S., the prevalence of heart failure in people with COPD ranges from 11% to 52%.
Symptoms of congestive heart failure often mimic some of the same symptoms of COPD. People
Left-sided heart failure symptoms may include:
- difficulty breathing
- sleepiness and difficulty concentrating
- swelling in the feet, ankles, and abdomen
- inability to sleep lying flat
Right-sided heart failure symptoms may include:
- loss of appetite
- swelling in the
- veins in the neck
- abdominal pain
- weight gain
- frequent urination
A stroke occurs when there is a blockage of blood flow to part of the brain. Research from 2022 found that people with COPD have an
- speech difficulties
- face drooping on one side
- arm weakness
- vision difficulty
- difficulty walking
- severe headache
A stroke is a medical emergency, so if a person recognizes any symptoms, they should call 911 immediately.
Obstructive sleep apnea involves brief pauses in breathing during sleep. A 2020 study found that
- loud snoring
- gasping for air during sleep
- daytime sleepiness
- breathing that stops and starts during sleep
- sexual dysfunction
- dry mouth
- waking up to urinate
Osteoporosis is a condition that involves a loss of bone mass and bone density. Experts estimate the prevalence of osteoporosis, which doctors define as low bone mineral density, among people with COPD ranges between
People with osteoporosis often do not have any symptoms of the disease. The first noticeable sign of the condition may include a fracture. Bones may become so fragile that fractures occur due to the following:
- minor falls
Chronic kidney disease occurs when the kidneys become damaged and cannot properly filter the blood. This leads to a buildup of waste in the body.
A 2016 Taiwanese study found that people with COPD had a
People may not notice any symptoms of chronic kidney disease until they reach the advanced stages of the condition. These symptoms may include:
- dry skin
- frequent urination
- loss of appetite
- difficulty sleeping
- muscle cramps
- puffiness around the eyes
- difficulty concentrating
- swollen ankles and feet
Experiencing COPD along with a comorbidity
Therefore, if someone has COPD symptoms with or without a comorbidity, it is vital to consult a doctor. They can help someone learn how to manage their conditions and recommend appropriate treatments.
- a sudden worsening of symptoms
- respiratory failure
- bacterial infections
- unexplained weight loss
- exercise intolerance
- pulmonary hypertension
- cor pulmonale, a condition that affects the right ventricle in the heart
- adverse reactions to glucocorticoids, which are steroid hormones that help regulate the immune system
People with COPD that have any of the following should consult a doctor as soon as possible:
- new symptoms
- worsening symptoms
- symptoms that do not improve with treatment
COPD includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Many people with COPD also have one or more comorbidities.
Some comorbidities that may occur along with COPD include congestive heart failure, obstructive sleep apnea, and chronic kidney disease. COPD and some of its comorbidities share similar risk factors and symptoms.
People with COPD and comorbidities may have an increased risk of complications and unfavorable health outcomes. A person should speak with a doctor who can diagnose any comorbidities in those with COPD and recommend appropriate treatments.