Both chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and sudden cardiac death (SCD) are major health burdens. A number of studies have addressed their interrelationship, but currently no systematic review has been published. Our objective is to give an overview of the literature of the association between COPD and SCD. A search on PubMed with both MeSH headings and free-text keywords was performed. We selected all original articles of studies in humans that assessed COPD on the one hand and SCD, electrocardiographic markers for SCD, ventricular arrhythmias, or asystole on the other. The electronic search yielded 251 articles, from which 27 full publications were selected after careful evaluation of the full-text articles. In these studies, COPD was associated with a prolonged and shortened QT interval. In patients with a myocardial infarction (MI), COPD was associated with an increased risk of ventricular arrhythmias and decreased survival. COPD was a risk factor for SCD both in cardiovascular patient groups and in community-based studies, independent from cardiovascular risk profile. Studies of the potential impact of respiratory treatment on the occurrence of SCD showed conflicting results. In conclusion, cumulating evidence associates COPD with an increased risk of SCD. Asystole and pulseless electric activity could be more common than VT/VF in deaths associated with COPD. Underlying mechanisms explaining this association require further investigation.

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Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine
Department of Medical Informatics

van den Berg, M.E, Stricker, B.H.Ch, Brusselle, G.G, & Lahousse, L. (2016). Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and sudden cardiac death: A systematic review. Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine (Vol. 26, pp. 606–613). doi:10.1016/j.tcm.2016.04.001