New research from the Netherlands shows that 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
the American Thoracic Society.
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 patients with COPD and 920
patients without the condition. COPD was confirmed by spirometry.
Participations with carotid wall thickening (intima-media thickness ≥ 2.5 mm)
on ultrasonography underwent high-resolution MRI to characterize carotid
with COPD had a twofold increased risk of carotid wall thickening on
ultrasonography compared with controls. This risk increased significantly with
the severity of airflow limitation. On MRI, vulnerable lipid core plaques were
significantly more frequent in participants with COPD compared with those
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 researcher Bruno H.C. Stricker, MD, PhD.
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," he added.
findings were published online ahead of print publication in the American
Thoracic Society's American Journal of
Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.