Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a long-term lung condition that makes breathing difficult. People with COPD often have comorbidities, which refers to other medical conditions.

COPD is a term that describes two long-term conditions that interfere with airflow in and out of the lungs and make it difficult for someone to breathe. These conditions include chronic bronchitis and emphysemamost people with COPD have both. In the United States, COPD affects about 16 million individuals, but many more Americans may also have it.

In severe cases, COPD may lead to low oxygen levels and other complications. It is also common for people with COPD to have comorbidities. A comorbidity is when someone has more than one condition or disease at the same time.

The article below explores what COPD comorbidities are and discusses five possible COPD comorbidities in more detail. It also discusses when to speak with a doctor.

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Comorbidities are common in people with COPD. The authors of a 2018 study of 1,584 people with the condition found that roughly only 28.4% of those in the study had no associated comorbidities.

COPD and some of its common comorbidities share similar risk factors, such as smoking. The condition also causes systemic inflammation, which can affect other organs and increase a person’s risk of developing certain comorbidities.

Someone with COPD may have one or more of a range of comorbidities. The following sections discuss five potential COPD comorbidities in more detail.

Congestive heart failure refers to when the heart cannot pump blood efficiently to meet the body’s needs. In the U.S., the prevalence of heart failure in people with COPD ranges from 11% to 52%.


Symptoms of congestive heart failure often mimic some of the same symptoms of COPD. People may have left- or right-sided heart failure.

Left-sided heart failure symptoms may include:

Right-sided heart failure symptoms may include:

Learn more about left- and right-sided heart failure.

A stroke occurs when there is a blockage of blood flow to part of the brain. Research from 2022 found that people with COPD have an increased risk of having a stroke compared with the general population.


Symptoms of a stroke may include sudden:

A stroke is a medical emergency, so if a person recognizes any symptoms, they should call 911 immediately.

Learn more about the FAST signs of stroke.

Obstructive sleep apnea involves brief pauses in breathing during sleep. A 2020 study found that about 13% of people with obstructive sleep apnea also have COPD.


Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea may include:

Osteoporosis is a condition that involves a loss of bone mass and bone density. Experts estimate the prevalence of osteoporosis, which doctors define as low bone mineral density, among people with COPD ranges between 8.7% and 69%.


People with osteoporosis often do not have any symptoms of the disease. The first noticeable sign of the condition may include a fracture. Bones may become so fragile that fractures occur due to the following:

  • minor falls
  • bending
  • lifting
  • coughing

Chronic kidney disease occurs when the kidneys become damaged and cannot properly filter the blood. This leads to a buildup of waste in the body.

A 2016 Taiwanese study found that people with COPD had a 1.6-fold higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease than those without it.


People may not notice any symptoms of chronic kidney disease until they reach the advanced stages of the condition. These symptoms may include:

Experiencing COPD along with a comorbidity increases a person’s risk of decreased quality of life, increased shortness of breath, and reduced exercise tolerance. Having a comorbidity also increases the risk of COPD exacerbations or flare-ups of symptoms and complications.

Therefore, if someone has COPD symptoms with or without a comorbidity, it is vital to consult a doctor. They can help someone learn how to manage their conditions and recommend appropriate treatments.

Possible complications of COPD include:

People with COPD that have any of the following should consult a doctor as soon as possible:

  • new symptoms
  • worsening symptoms
  • symptoms that do not improve with treatment

COPD includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Many people with COPD also have one or more comorbidities.

Some comorbidities that may occur along with COPD include congestive heart failure, obstructive sleep apnea, and chronic kidney disease. COPD and some of its comorbidities share similar risk factors and symptoms.

People with COPD and comorbidities may have an increased risk of complications and unfavorable health outcomes. A person should speak with a doctor who can diagnose any comorbidities in those with COPD and recommend appropriate treatments.