COPD Complications

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If COPD is not well-managed, you can develop complications. Complications can be difficult to manage, so prevention is key. 

Complications stem mostly from poor medication adherence or smoking or both.


  • Respiratory infections - People with COPD are more likely to catch colds, the flu and even lung infections. Any respiratory infection can make it much more difficult to breathe and could cause further damage to lung tissue. The combination of the infection and COPD can lead to permanent lung damage. Vaccinations and early treatment of infection can help prevent further disease.
  • Heart problems - COPD can increase your risk of heart disease. Lung disease can place a burden on the heart. Once the heart is affected the outcomes are usually poor. Controlling the condition limits its affect to the lung and avoids irreversible complications.
  • High blood pressure in lung arteries - COPD may cause high blood pressure in the arteries that bring blood to your lungs (pulmonary hypertension). This is then linked to heart failure in COPD.
  • Depression - Difficulty breathing can keep you from doing and enjoying your daily activities. Dealing with a serious illness can contribute to the development of depression.

Taking charge of your health and the management of your disease can play a huge role in preventing complications. To limit the chance of developing complications, make sure you comply with the treatment prescribed.


Written by Dr Ruusa Shivute | Health Window

References: Negewo NA, Gibson PG, McDonald VM. COPD and its comorbidities: Impact, measurement and mechanisms. Respirology. 2015 Nov;20(8):1160-71

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