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Arrhythmias in COPD

Omar A Minai, MD
Section Editors
James K Stoller, MD, MS
Leonard I Ganz, MD, FHRS, FACC
Deputy Editors
Helen Hollingsworth, MD
Brian C Downey, MD, FACC


The natural history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) includes gradually worsening shortness of breath and functional limitation, caused by a progressive decline in lung function and the development of co-morbid illnesses [1]. Multifocal atrial tachycardia, atrial fibrillation, and ventricular arrhythmias are common co-morbidities among patients with COPD [2].

The potential contributing factors, occurrence rates, and management of arrhythmias in patients with COPD will be discussed here. The management of stable COPD and atrial and ventricular arrhythmia is reviewed separately. (See "Management of stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease" and "Clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and evaluation of narrow QRS complex tachycardias" and "Multifocal atrial tachycardia" and "Management of new onset atrial fibrillation" and "Rhythm control versus rate control in atrial fibrillation" and "Approach to the diagnosis of wide QRS complex tachycardias" and "Approach to the management of wide QRS complex tachycardias".)


Multiple factors have been evaluated as possible contributors to the development of arrhythmias in patients with COPD [3,4]. Some are related to comorbid disease processes with shared risk factors and others are more specifically related to COPD. Factors related to COPD that have been studied regarding their potential role in arrhythmia development are discussed in greater detail below.

Comorbid disease processes — COPD shares risk factors (eg, age, smoking) with a number of disease processes and related treatments that are also associated with cardiac arrhythmias, including [3,4]:

Coronary heart disease


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Sep 22, 2016.
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