Patients with a deadly lung disease are three times as likely to experience severe coronary events - including heart attacks - than their normal counterparts, according to a recent study.
The study is based on an analysis of cardiovascular disease risk in nearly 1,000 patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and more than 3,500 matched controls.
IPF is a disorder characterised by progressive scarring (fibrosis) and deterioration of the lungs.
"If you look at them over time, people with IPF have roughly a three-fold increased risk of acute coronary syndrome, which is a greater increase than you get from smoking," said Richard B. Hubbard, professor of epidemiology at University of Nottingham and co-author of the study.
Hubbard and colleagues analysed data from the computerised records of the Britain's Health Improvement Network for 920 patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and 3,593 control subjects without IPF for diagnoses of coronary events and disease incidence.
In addition to having a markedly increased risk of heart problems, patients with IPF were 23 percent more likely to have angina, had a 60 percent higher risk of stroke, and a three-fold increased risk of deep vein thrombosis, according to Hubbard.
Notably, those with IPF were more than twice as likely as control subjects to have been prescribed amiodarone, a medication used for irregular heartbeats that has also been implicated as a cause of fibrotic lung disease.
This research could have serious implications for the 60,000 people with IPF who currently live in the US and the 21,000 people who receive this diagnosis for the first time each year, according to a Nottingham release.
Unfortunately, medical knowledge about IPF is limited. "We know that genetic factors play some role in IPF because it clusters in families in about 10 percent of cases," said Hubbard.