A new study published in Circulation is advising physicians examining the CT scans of COPD patients’ lungs to also examine their heart as well.
Researchers in this new study looked at data for 6,842 smokers who had CT scans of their lungs. They measured coronary artery calcium in each scan and found a direct relationship between the level of calcified coronary plaque and death from any cause in the subsequent years the patients were monitored.
Among COPD patients with the highest levels of coronary artery calcium, 24.4% died compared with 8.4% of those with no calcium buildup.
“We found that those participants who had higher levels of coronary calcification, or plaque in their heart, were more likely to die over the next seven years or so,” said Dr. Matthew Budoff, lead author of the study and a cardiologist at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute.