On Mar 17, 2014
Increasing evidence indicates that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a complex disease involving more than airflow obstruction. Airflow obstruction has profound effects on cardiac function and gas exchange with systemic consequences. In addition, as COPD results from inflammation and/or alterations in repair mechanisms, the “spill-over” of inflammatory mediators into the circulation may result in important systemic manifestations of the disease, such as skeletal muscle wasting and cachexia. Systemic inflammation may also initiate or worsen comorbid diseases, such as ischaemic heart disease, heart failure, osteoporosis, normocytic anaemia, lung cancer, depression and diabetes. Comorbid diseases potentiate the morbidity of COPD, leading to increased hospitalisations, mortality and healthcare costs. Comorbidities complicate the management of COPD and need to be evaluated carefully. Current therapies for comorbid diseases, such as statins and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-agonists, may provide unexpected benefits for COPD patients. Treatment of COPD inflammation may concomitantly treat systemic inflammation and associated comorbidities. However, new broad-spectrum anti-inflammatory treatments, such as phosphodiesterase 4 inhibitors, have significant side-effects so it may be necessary to develop inhaled drugs in the future. Another approach is the reversal of corticosteroid resistance, for example with effective antioxidants. More research is needed on COPD comorbidities and their treatment.