High-risk carotid artery plaque formation is increased in older COPD patients

October 26, 2012

Older patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are at increased risk for carotid artery plaque formation and for the presence of vulnerable plaques with a lipid core, according to a new study from researchers in the Netherlands.

"We know that COPD is a risk factor for , and that certain components of carotid artery plaques such as intraplaque hemorrhage and lipid core increase the risk of ischemic events, but plaque composition in patients with COPD has not been examined," said researcher Bruno H.C. Stricker, MD, PhD, professor of pharmaco-epidemiology at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. "In our study, wall thickening was increased twofold in older COPD patients compared with controls with normal lung function, and COPD was an independent predictor of the presence of plaques with a lipid core, which are more prone to rupture."

The findings were published online ahead of print publication in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and .

The cross-sectional study, part of the Rotterdam Study, an ongoing population-based cohort study examining the occurrence of and risk factors for chronic diseases in subjects aged 55 years and older, involved 253 COPD patients and 920 controls. COPD was confirmed by spirometry. Subjects with carotid wall thickening (intima-media thickness ≥ 2.5 mm) on ultrasonography underwent high-resolution (MRI) to characterize carotid plaques.

Subjects with COPD had a twofold increased risk (odds ratio 2.0, 95%CI 1.44-2.85, p<0.0001) of carotid wall thickening on ultrasonography compared to controls, and this risk increased significantly with the severity of airflow limitation. On MRI, vulnerable lipid core plaques were significantly more frequent in subjects with COPD compared with controls (odds ratio 2.1, 95%CI 1.25-3.69, p=0.0058).

"Clinicians should be aware that COPD patients are at increased risk for asymptomatic carotid atherosclerosis and that COPD might lead to vulnerable plaques by inducing or aggravating the presence of plaques with a lipid core," said Dr. Stricker.

The study had a few limitations, including the study's cross-sectional design, which doesn't allow causal associations between COPD and carotid plaques to be inferred, and the lack of computed tomography confirmation of emphysema

"The results of our study provide new insights into the relationship between COPD and the increased risk for stroke seen in these patients," concluded Dr. Stricker. "Understanding the underlying risk factors for stroke in COPD patients can help identify those at high risk and lead to the development of more personalized preventive treatment strategies targeting this devastating complication."

Explore further: Children exposed to cigarette smoke have increased risk of COPD in adulthood

Related Stories

Children exposed to cigarette smoke have increased risk of COPD in adulthood

March 15, 2012
A new study published in the journal Respirology reveals that children who are exposed to passive smoke have almost double the risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in adulthood compared with non-exposed ...

Pulmonary artery enlargement predicts exacerbation in COPD

September 4, 2012
(HealthDay)—For patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), computed tomographic (CT) measurement of pulmonary artery enlargement, as determined by a ratio of the diameter of the pulmonary artery to the ...

Roflumilast improves lung function after 6 months compared with placebo

October 22, 2012
Roflumilast was associated with significant improvements in lung function in patients with moderate and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) after 6 months of treatment compared with placebo.

5-question survey may increase COPD diagnoses

October 22, 2012
A simple, five-question patient-administered survey (COPD-PS) may lead to increased diagnoses of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Comorbidities increase risk of mortality in COPD patients

May 4, 2012
Comorbidities are common among patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and a number of these comorbidities are independently associated with an increased mortality risk, according to a new study.

Recommended for you

Novel approach to track HIV infection

August 18, 2017
Northwestern Medicine scientists have developed a novel method of tracking HIV infection, allowing the behavior of individual virions—infectious particles—to be connected to infectivity.

Faulty gene linked to obesity in adults

August 18, 2017
Groundbreaking new research linking obesity and metabolic dysfunction to a problem in the energy generators in cells has been published by researchers from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and The University ...

Two lung diseases killed 3.6 million in 2015: study

August 17, 2017
The two most common chronic lung diseases claimed 3.6 million lives worldwide in 2015, according to a tally published Thursday in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

New test differentiates between Lyme disease, similar illness

August 16, 2017
Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the United States. But it can be confused with similar conditions, including Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness. A team of researchers led by Colorado ...

Addressing superbug resistance with phage therapy

August 16, 2017
International research involving a Monash biologist shows that bacteriophage therapy – a process whereby bacterial viruses attack and destroy specific strains of bacteria - can be used successfully to treat systemic, multidrug ...

Can previous exposure to west Nile alter the course of Zika?

August 15, 2017
West Nile virus is no stranger to the U.S.-Mexico border; thousands of people in the region have contracted the mosquito-borne virus in the past. But could this previous exposure affect how intensely Zika sickens someone ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.