Diabetes & COPD: A Killer Combination?

No matter which comes first, the combination is always more likely to kill you compared to a single disease.


The researchers are sure that diabetes and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) share a close link. However, an accurate finding on this is still lacking. What we know now is if you have both these conditions, your risk of death increases significantly.

What is COPD?

COPD is a long-term disease that causes a gradual decrease in your ability to breathe. It takes several years before breathing becomes extremely difficult. Cigarette smoking is the single biggest cause. But 25% of the patients are nonsmokers, says The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

What Does The Latest Study Say About The Link Between Diabetes and COPD?

The study was conducted using data from 2,015 individuals above the age of 40 from January 1, 2000, to December 31, 2013. All the patients had COPD diagnosis during the study. 16% of the patients were diabetics.

Key Study Findings and Interpretation

During the study period, 33% of the patients died and a majority of them were diabetics. This clearly indicates how co-occurrence of diabetes and COPD can boost the risk of death.

Other probable causes of death were older age (more than 50 years), heart failure, and problems in the blood vessels that supply the brain.

During the follow-up period of a decade, almost one-fifth of the patients who had survived developed diabetes.

The survival rate among the patients with diabetes and COPD was poor.

Key Takeaway

If you have COPD before or after you get diabetes, the risk of death from any of the causes such as high blood pressure, heart failure, or complications of either of the diseases rises significantly.

What You Can Do To Reduce Your Risk of Death

First and foremost, quit smoking. If you cannot give it up on your own, consult your doctor.

As a matter of fact, diabetes and COPD have many shared risk factors such as sedentary lifestyle, inflammation at the cellular level, and cigarette smoking. Thus, you should also consider taking up regular physical activity to maintain a healthy weight.


PLoS One. URL Link. Retrieved Aug 7, 2017.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. URL Link. Retrieved Aug 7, 2017.


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Shailesh is a registered pharmacist and freelance medical writer from Nepal. He has a keen interest in psychology, behavioral science, and health technology. He loves coffee, traveling, cricket and reading.