Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart failure: common diseases of the elderly, frequent non-recognition and the value of specialist referral
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Heart Failure (HF) are major and increasing public health
problems worldwide. Both conditions are common diseases of the elderly and often coexist. Unfortunately
their coexistence frequently remains unrecognized mainly due to the similarities in clinical presentation and
additionally due to a lack of relevant studies addressing the combination of HF and COPD. The coexistence of
HF and COPD presents many diagnostic challenges. Several tests can be performed to assist in the diagnosis
of each disease. Assessment of left ventricular function by transthoracic echocardiography is mandatory for
diagnosing HF, while magnetic resonance imaging is the modality of choice in those with limited acoustic windows.
On the other hand, objective evidence of airflow obstruction, demonstrated when clinically euvolemic
is mandatory for diagnosing COPD. Greater collaboration is required between cardiologists, pulmonologists,
and general practitioners. Both are chronic progressive diseases and their prognosis combined is poorer than
for either disease alone, therefore it is really important to recognize the coexistence of both processes early.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
© Società Italiana di Gerontologia e Geriatria (SIGG) , 2017
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