BACKGROUND: Although it is known that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) generally do have an increased heart rate, the effects on both mortality and non-fatal pulmonary complications are unclear. We assessed whether heart rate is associated with all-cause mortality, and non-fatal pulmonary endpoints.<br /><br />METHODS: A prospective cohort study of 405 elderly patients with COPD was performed. All patients underwent extensive investigations, including electrocardiography. Follow-up data on mortality were obtained by linking the cohort to the Dutch National Cause of Death Register and information on complications (exacerbation of COPD or pneumonia) by scrutinizing patient files of general practitioners. Multivariable cox regression analysis was performed.<br /><br />RESULTS: During the follow-up 132 (33%) patients died. The overall mortality rate was 50/1000 py (42-59). The major causes of death were cardiovascular and respiratory. The relative risk of all-cause mortality increased with 21% for every 10 beats/minute increase in heart rate (adjusted HR: 1.21 [1.07-1.36], p = 0.002). The incidence of major non-fatal pulmonary events was 145/1000 py (120-168). The risk of a non-fatal pulmonary complication increased non-significantly with 7% for every 10 beats/minute increase in resting heart rate (adjusted HR: 1.07 [0.96-1.18], p = 0.208).<br /><br />CONCLUSIONS: Increased resting heart rate is a strong and independent risk factor for all-cause mortality in elderly patients with COPD. An increased resting heart rate did not result in an increased risk of exacerbations or pneumonia. This may indicate that the increased mortality risk of COPD is related to non-pulmonary causes. Future randomized controlled trials are needed to investigate whether heart-rate lowering agents are worthwhile for COPD patients.
Warnier, M. J., Rutten, F. H., De Boer, A., Hoes, A. W., & De Bruin, M. L. (2014). Resting heart rate is a risk factor for mortality in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but not for exacerbations or pneumonia. PLoS ONE, 9(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0105152