Acute COPD Exacerbation – Can pulmonary embolism be the trigger?

This week at morning report we discussed triggers for acute COPD exacerbation which include infectious and environmental pollution. Researchers have studied pulmonary embolism as another trigger. Previously on the blog we posted a nice clinical pearl about patients with COPD exacerbation and PE. In 2005, a study was published in CHEST from Northern California Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program that suggests patients with COPD have twice the risk of venous thromboembolism than patients without COPD. A 2009 study published in CHEST did a systematic literature review of English and French articles and obtained their results from 5 articles. Based on these studies, the overall prevalence of pulmonary embolism was 19.9% (CI 6.7-33%). In the four studies that included hospitalized COPD patients, the prevalence increased to 24.7%. Interestingly, prevalence of DVT was lower in the same patient population than pulmonary embolism. Check out the 2009 study from CHEST by clicking on the link below!

Prevalence of Pulmonary Embolism in Acute Exacerbations of COPD: A Systematic Review and Metaanalysis