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Aging Clin Exp Res. 2011 Oct-Dec;23(5-6):337-42. doi: 10.3275/7291. Epub 2010 Oct 12.

Frequency and significance of unrecognized chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in elderly patients with stable heart failure.

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Clinic for Cardiovascular Diseases, Nis Clinical Center, Bulevar dr. Zorana Djindjica 48, 18000 Nis, Serbia.



Due to prolonged life-spans and modern therapeutic approaches, there has been an increase in the number of patients aged ≥ 65 years with chronic heart failure (CHF). The duration and quality of life in elderly patients with CHF also depend on accompanying diseases. Although frequency of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in patients with CHF is about 30%, it is hard to find similar data in the elderly population. COPD is defined as a spirometrically assessed ratio of a post-dilatory forced expiratory volume in the first second, divided by forced vital capacity (FEV1/FVC) <70%. The aims of our study were to assess the prevalence of previously undiagnosed COPD in outpatients (≥ 65 yrs) with stable CHF and to determine the effect of the combination of COPD and CHF on patients' functional capacity as measured by a 6-minute walking test.


Of the 174 study patients, 126 (72.4%) were men. In 48 patients (27.6%) we found previously unrecognized COPD. They were significantly older (75.6 ± 5.8 vs 73 ± 4.5 years, p<0.01) and more frequently had abdominal obesity and a greater waist circumference (98.8 ± 10.2 vs 94.9 ± 9.1 cm, p<0.05). Patients with COPD had significantly shorter 6-min walking distance (275.5 ± 112.9 vs 291.3 ± 96.7 m, p<0.05). Only patient's age had a positive prognostic association with unrecognized COPD (OR=1.16; 95% CI 1.01- 1.34, p<0.01). Patients with COPD showed a significant correlation between actual/predicted FEV1 and the 6-min walking distance (r=0.39, p<0.01).


We found a high prevalence of unrecognized COPD in elderly patients with CHF and central obesity. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease influenced functional capacity in CHF patients, as determined by the 6-minute walking test. Closer co-operation between pulmonologists and cardiologists is necessary to optimize management of this large proportion of CHF patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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