Complications of COPD include:

  • Respiratory infections. People with COPD are more susceptible to colds, the flu and pneumonia. Any respiratory infection can make it much more difficult to breathe and produce further damage to the lung tissue. An annual flu vaccination and regular vaccination against pneumococcal pneumonia help prevent some infections.
  • High blood pressure. COPD may cause high blood pressure in the arteries that bring blood to your lungs (pulmonary hypertension).
  • Heart problems. For reasons that aren't fully understood, COPD increases your risk of heart disease, including heart attack.
  • Lung cancer. Smokers with chronic bronchitis have greater risk of developing lung cancer than do smokers who don't have chronic bronchitis.
  • Depression. Difficulty breathing can keep you from doing activities that you enjoy. And dealing with serious illness can contribute to development of depression. Talk to your doctor if you feel sad or helpless or think that you may be experiencing depression.