Conditions Linked to COPD – Overview

People living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often have other health conditions as well. COPD and other conditions can be related in different ways:

  • COPD might cause the other condition
  • COPD and the other condition might be have the same cause, such as smoking
  • COPD and the other condition might have completely different causes

Sometimes, the other condition can make a person’s COPD get worse. Other times, COPD might affect the other condition in different ways. For this reason, COPD patients need to let their healthcare providers know about any other conditions that they have.

What other kinds of health conditions do COPD patients tend to have?

Health conditions that are common for people with COPD can be grouped according to the body’s system or function that the condition affects. These groups are:

Which cardiovascular diseases are linked to COPD?1,2

Conditions that affect the heart and the blood vessels that transport blood throughout the body are called “cardiovascular” diseases. The most common cardiovascular diseases that are linked to COPD are:

  •  Ischemic heart disease – also called “coronary heart disease”
  • High blood pressure – also called “hypertension”
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Heart failure

What metabolic conditions are linked to COPD?1,2

The body’s metabolic system, which is also called “metabolism,” involves a group of chemical processes that digest the food a person eats and turn it into energy for the body. Good nutrition is very important, because the body needs enough of the right kind of nutrients from food and drinks to process into enough energy to power the body.

COPD patients often have conditions linked to nutrition and metabolism, such as:

  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Having an unhealthy body weight

Which other respiratory conditions are linked to COPD?1,2

COPD is a disease that affects the lungs and breathing system, which is also called the “respiratory system.” People with COPD frequently have other conditions that affect the respiratory system:

  • Respiratory infections
  • Flu
  • Pneumonia
  • Collapsed lung
  • Lung cancer

COPD flare-ups happen when a person’s COPD symptoms suddenly get worse. These are also called “acute exacerbations.” Respiratory infections, flu, and pneumonia are all possible causes of COPD flare-ups.

What kinds of mental health issues are linked to COPD?1,2

Living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be hard for patients. It can make them feel stressed, sad, and lonely at times. Feeling short of breath can also be very frightening, especially during COPD flare-ups.

Everyone feels sad, anxious, or frightened now and again, but some patients with COPD have those kinds of feelings all the time. When that happens, it is possible that the patient has one or both of these conditions:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Which bone and muscle conditions are linked to COPD?1,2

Many people with COPD have conditions that affect their bones and muscles. In general, these conditions can cause the bones and muscles to get much weaker. These are the two most common bone and muscle conditions that people with COPD have:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Skeletal muscular dysfunction

What sleeping problems are linked to COPD?1,2

People with COPD often say that they have problems sleeping. In fact, several of the symptoms of COPD can make it hard for a patient to sleep well.

Several different kinds of sleeping problems can affect people with COPD:

  • Trouble going to sleep
  • Trouble staying asleep
  • Sleepiness during the daytime
  • Waking up due to headaches
  • Waking up due to shortness of breath
  • Brief periods of not breathing during sleep
  • Nightmares
Written by: Anna Nicholson | Last reviewed: July 2015.
View References
  1. Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD). Global Strategy for the Diagnosis, Management and Prevention of COPD, 2014. Available at: http://www.goldcopd.org/ [Accessed 16 January 2015.]
  2. American Thoracic Society / European Respiratory Society Task Force. Standards for the Diagnosis and Management of Patients with COPD [Internet]. Version 1.2. New York: American Thoracic Society; 2004 [updated 2005 September 8]. Available from: http://www.thoracic.org/go/copd [Accessed 16 January 2015.]