What are the most common COPD complications and risk factors?

As with any progressive health condition, impaired bodily functions can result in increased risk of complications.

Common concerns include:

  • Respiratory infections that may cause further damage to lung tissue and make it more difficult for a person to breathe.
  • Heart problems and heart attack
  • Lung cancer
  • Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lung arteries)
  • Emotional problems such as anxiety and depression

Those at higher risk include individuals…

  • Who smoke or are constantly exposed to smoke (includes tobacco / cigarettes, pipes, cigars and marijuana)
  • Who are asthmatic and or / smoke
  • Who are exposed to occupational chemicals, fumes (and burning fuels in the home with poor ventilation) and dust (prolonged periods).
  • Who are 40 years or older when the first signs and symptoms begin
  • Who have an alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency

Is there any connection between lung cancer and COPD?

Yes, these two diseases are linked due to the nature of risk factors they both have in common. Most diagnosed with either disease are chronic smokers, or have been exposed to second-hand smoke, chemicals or fumes over prolonged periods of time. Age is also a factor and the majority of those diagnosed are older individuals. Lung cancer is also a common complication of COPD.

What is the outlook for a person diagnosed and managing COPD?

COPD is a progressive, non-contagious disease and you will be required to make very definite changes to your life in order to effectively manage your condition. Symptoms develop as a result of serious damage to the lungs and breathing functionality. Early symptoms can greatly benefit from lifestyle choices that prevent further damage and enhance your quality of life through the progressive stages of the disease.

Intensity of symptoms will make life increasingly limiting and ultimately may result in your not being able to take care of yourself without constant assistance. As the disease progresses, risk of complications significantly increases. The disease will reduce your life expectancy, but if diagnosed early and treated sufficiently, you can reduce the risk of serious complications dramatically.

It is strongly advisable that you work closely with your doctor and other specialists at all times to help manage your condition and get all the relevant information you need to improve your overall lifestyle, as well as cope with all the necessary changes.