Comorbidities of COPD as a function of age: evidence and practical recommendations

C. Pedone

UOC Gerontology, Campus Bio-Medico University, Rome, Italy

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a highly prevalent chronic condition with a dramatic impact on the health status that is evident even in milder stages of the disease. However, deaths due to respiratory causes account for only a fraction of mortality in COPD. Thus, comorbid conditions as potential co-determinants of the effects of COPD on both health status and survival have received much attention in the last years. COPD is almost invariably associated with other diseases, and three mechanisms most likely underpin this association. First, COPD is an age-related diseases, and as such tend to be associated with other age-related diseases. Second, COPD shares its most important risk factor – cigarette smoking – with several other diseases, in particular cardiovascular diseases. Third, COPD, or COPD treatment, may impact other systems or organs, as is the case of COPD-associated anemia or osteoporosis. The aim of this article is to provide an overview on the comorbidities of COPD that are most relevant for the elderly, providing information relevant for patients’ management. COPD is a highly prevalent chronic condition, the only one whose prevalence is steadily rising in western countries. Currently the sixth, it is expected to rank the third cause of death by 2020. Furthermore, it dramatically impacts the health status and the personal independence. However, deaths due to respiratory causes account for only a fraction of mortality in COPD, whereas health status is frequently impaired even in the milder stages of the disease. This fact has switched the attention to comorbid conditions as potential co-determinants of the effects of COPD on both health status and survival.

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