Screening Heart Disease Patients for COPD Could Greatly Improve Health Outcomes

Patients with heart disease should also be tested for COPD, according to new research, as more than one quarter of patients with heart disease may also have COPD and not yet know it.

Researchers from the Imperial College London have found that screening patients with heart disease for COPD may lead to the recognition of many previously undiagnosed cases of lung disease. This information, according to the researchers, could greatly improve overall health outcomes.

Results from the study showed that more than a quarter of people who have heart disease may also have chronic lung disease without knowing it. The research team, led by Dr. Sarah Elkin, Lead in Respiratory Medicine at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and member of the British Thoracic Society, used spirometry testing to determine lung health. Among the 163 patients who participated in the study, more than a quarter of them (26.4%) were found to have airflow obstruction, which according to the researchers, is "a key sign of COPD."

"Our research suggests that screening heart disease out-patients with a simple breathing test could identify many undiagnosed lung disease cases," Elkin said.

Elkin continued by saying how this finding demonstrated that some patients may be more ill than they previously thought, and it could eventually improve patients' health, because they would be treated for all conditions affecting their health.

"The positive news is that if we can spot lung disease cases more quickly we can treat them more effectively, and in many cases this will help improve patients' health," Elkin said.

Research findings were also presented at the British Thoracic Society Annual Winter Meeting.