The official blog of the Lung Institute.

The Relationship of Medical Conditions and COPD

14 Apr 2014
| Under COPD, Related Conditions | Posted by | 4 Comments
medical conditions and COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) greatly impacts the lives of its sufferers. Unfortunately, adding to the person’s woes can be the relationship between other medical conditions and COPD. The connection is still somewhat misunderstood by scientists, and therefore continues to be the basis of extensive research, case studies and clinical evaluation.

Medical Conditions and COPD

There are a number conditions that can impact a person with COPD. The following are some of these diseases:


Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is often present in individuals with COPD. This may be due to the fact that the damaged lungs restrict oxygen from reaching the bloodstream. This makes it difficult for oxygen-rich blood to reach the body, causing the heart to work overtime to pump blood. Cor pulmonale, a condition in which the heart becomes enlarged due to low amounts of oxygen, may also occur as a result of COPD.


The prevalence of osteoporosis in individuals with COPD is still unknown, but it is speculated that osteoporosis, in some cases, occurs due to the medications used to treat COPD. Also, research suggests that the systemic inflammation caused by COPD throughout the body contributes to weakness of the bones, as well as many other medical conditions.


Quality of life is significantly impacted in patients with COPD. Approximately 40 percent are affected by severe depressive symptoms or clinical depression. More research needs to be conducted to make a conclusion of the correlation between depression and COPD as it relates to possible death. It is often hard for practitioners to discern if depression results due to the impact of COPD on quality of life or other causes.


Like many other serious medical conditions, you may have a greater chance of having co-existing diabetes if you have COPD, but there is no data stating that your COPD is going to cause you to develop diabetes. The prevalence of diabetes in people with COPD is often found in younger patients, between 45 and 55, and smokers. Scientists have also found that hyperglycemia (excess sugar in the blood) is linked to impaired lung function.

High cholesterol

Heart disease is the second greatest cause of death in people with COPD, and can occur as the result of high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure. Make sure to get your cholesterol and blood pressure levels consistently checked. The exact correlation between high cholesterol and COPD is unknown. Promising results from a variety of case studies suggest that  statins, prescribed to people with high cholesterol, can also reduce inflammation in the lungs.

Heart disease

If you have COPD, you’re at an increased risk of heart failure. This is because damage in the lungs does not allow enough oxygen to reach the heart. As mentioned above, the heart must then work harder to pump oxygen-rich blood to the body. This overuse eventually leads to heart damage and eventually heart failure.


It is an established fact that individuals with COPD are at an increased risk for the development of primary lung cancer. This increased risk is directly correlated with the systemic inflammation caused by the disease. If you have COPD and lung cancer, surgical intervention may be needed to prolong and improve longevity of life.

Many of these medical conditions, also referred to as comorbidities, aren’t necessarily caused by a COPD diagnosis, but tend to be more common in individuals with COPD. In one large case study, with over 1,500 participants, persons with COPD reported, on average, having four other conditions.  Unfortunately, the presence of other medical conditions contributes to the likelihood of death in individuals with COPD, and other forms of lung disease, and should be taken very seriously.

Make sure to tell your doctor or pulmonologist if you’re having symptoms of any of the medical conditions listed above. If you’re taking any medications for these conditions, it is also essential for you to go over each of the presciptions with your pulmonologist to limit any medication interactions.

Why are These Serious Medical Conditions more common in People with COPD?

Physicians aren’t sure why certain medical conditions are associated with COPD, but it is suspected that there may be a direct correlation with the physiological processes that happen to the body during aging.  Many individuals with COPD also have a history of cigarette smoking, which is known to lead to many of the conditions listed above, and others including stroke, cataracts, ulcers and erectile dysfunction. Although former smokers with COPD are at a higher risk of developing these serious medical conditions, non-smokers also have a significant risk.

Medication Risks 

Unfortunately, many of the medications used to treat COPD also come with a variety of unwanted side effects and health risks.

  • Inhaled corticosteroids – may cause cataracts, and put you at risk for the development of osteoporosis.
  • Intravenous steroids – may also cause osteoporosis as well as diabetes, high blood pressure, diabetes and muscle weakness.
  • Bronchodilators – are known to cause a rapid heart rate.
  • Inhaled anticholinergics – may cause elevated pressure in the eyes, as well as cardiac problems, and bladder issues.

These are just some of the popular medications used to treat COPD that may lead to the presence of other health conditions. If you have any questions or concerns about the side effects of your medications, make sure to speak with your doctor. Often, the benefits of your medication will outweigh the risk of these side effects.

Take Care of Yourself and Use Good Judgment

You know your body better than anyone else. If a medication is having a negative effect on your body, speak to your doctor about an alternative. Make sure to take care of yourself, many of these medical conditions can also occur due to poor diet and lack of exercise. By leading a healthy lifestyle you can not only reduce your COPD symptoms, you can also reduce the risk of developing a serious medical condition. If you feel as if your quality of life has been impacted significantly, you do have other options. Stem cell treatments have been known to vastly improve the quality of life of COPD and lung disease patients.

If you or a loved one has COPD or other lung disease and want to learn more about treatment options, contact us or call (800) 729-3065.





  1. PB

    4 months ago

    Dear Adele,

    First and foremost, we’re sorry to hear that you’ve been going through such a difficult time with COPD. Depending on the size of the pulmonary nodules, your doctor may recommend having a follow-up test after a certain amount of time to check on them. To read more about how doctors decide when to have a follow-up on a pulmonary nodule, click here. If you have any questions or concerns about follow-ups, your symptoms or your treatment plan, it’s important to discuss them with your doctor. Because your doctor knows you and your health well, he or she will be able to guide you best. We are happy to answer any questions you have regarding stem cell treatment options, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to speak with a patient coordinator.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  2. Adele Pettinelli

    4 months ago

    I just recently spent 5 days in the hospital, for serve copd,I also found out that i have two nodules. I WAS TOLD TO WAIT 3 MONTHS BEFORE HAVI G THEM CHECKED. What advice do have for me.

  3. PB

    6 months ago

    Dear Brenda,

    Thanks for your comment. Because treatment cost varies depending on treatment type, to answer your question, it’s best to speak with one of our patient coordinators one-on-one. They are happy to answer your questions about stem cells, treatment and cost, so feel free to contact us today by calling (855) 313-1149. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  4. brenda

    6 months ago

    What is the cost for Stem Cell Therapy ? I have 25% lung capacity..thanks

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