Over three million people in the UK are living with the debilitating lung condition COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Many sufferers also develop cardiovascular disease and the combination can be fatal. A test to identify which COPD patients are at high risk of heart disease would allow doctors to tailor treatments more effectively. The answer may be to use CT scans to measure the volume of a type of fat, epicardial adipose tissue (EAT), around the heart. Increased EAT is clearly linked to cardiovascular disease. These CT scans show a chest cross-section for two men, both ex-smokers of a similar age and weight, but one has COPD (bottom) and the other doesn’t (top). The man with COPD has 30% more fat (pale blue) around his heart, and therefore a higher risk of heart disease.
Written by Sarah McLusky
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