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Biochemical markers of cardiac dysfunction predict mortality in acute exacerbations of COPD
  1. Catherina L Chang1,
  2. Scott C Robinson2,
  3. Graham D Mills3,
  4. Glenda D Sullivan1,
  5. Noel C Karalus1,
  6. John D McLachlan1,
  7. Robert J Hancox1,4
  1. 1Respiratory Research Unit, Department of Respiratory Medicine, Waikato Hospital, New Zealand
  2. 2Department of Anaesthesia, Waikato Hospital, New Zealand
  3. 3Department of General Medicine, Waikato Hospital, New Zealand
  4. 4Department of Preventive & Social Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Dr Catherina L Chang, Department of Respiratory Medicine, Waikato Hospital, Level 01 Menzies Building, Hamilton 3204, New Zealand; contact_cat{at}


Background Retrospective studies suggest that plasma levels of N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) and cardiac troponin T are often elevated in patients with acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and are associated with increased mortality. These cardiac biomarkers were investigated in an unselected cohort of patients admitted to hospital with exacerbations of COPD.

Methods Consecutive patients with physician-diagnosed COPD exacerbation but without clinical evidence of acute cardiac disease admitted to a public hospital over a 1 year period were studied prospectively. NT-proBNP and troponin T were measured on admission. The primary end point was all-cause mortality at 30 days.

Results Elevated NT-proBNP (>220 pmol/l) was present in 65/244 patients (27.5%) and significantly predicted 30-day mortality (OR 9.0, 95% CI 3.1 to 26.2, p<0.001). Elevated troponin T (>0.03 μg/l) was found in 40/241 patients (16.6%) and also predicted 30-day mortality (OR 6.3, 95% CI 2.4 to 16.5, p<0.001). These associations persisted after adjusting for other clinical and laboratory predictors of mortality (arterial CO2 pressure (Paco2), body mass index and CURB65 score). NT-proBNP and troponin T levels appeared to have additive associations with mortality: 30-day mortality among patients with abnormalities of both NT-proBNP and troponin T was 15-fold higher than among patients with normal values.

Conclusion Elevated levels of NT-proBNP and troponin T are strong predictors of early mortality among patients admitted to hospital with acute exacerbations of COPD independently of other known prognostic indicators. The pathophysiological basis for this is unknown, but indicates that cardiac involvement in exacerbations of COPD may be an important determinant of prognosis.

  • COPD exacerbations
  • COPD pathology

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  • See Editorial, p 745

  • Linked articles 157529, 153122.

  • Funding The Waikato Medical Research Foundation and the Waikato Respiratory Research Fund.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the the Northern Y Regional Ethics Committee of New Zealand.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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