The link between poor lung function and Sudden Cardiac Death

07.10.21 10:05 PM By Norma

Scientists have found that there is a close relationship between poor lung function and coronary events, although it is unclear whether lung status is a predictor of Sudden Cardiac Death.

For this reason, Suneela Zaigham PhD (Lund University, Lund, Sweden) and her collaborators conducted a study, for about 40 years, among 28,584 middle-aged people, with no history of acute coronary events, living in Malmö, Sweden. They aimed to try to test whether poor lung function could be considered an important risk marker of Sudden Cardiac Death.

Relationship between FEV1 and Sudden Cardiac Death

While it has long been known that poor lung function can predict a coronary event, it was uncertain if different patterns of lung deterioration had the same ability to predict such events, whether non-fatal or sudden death.


The study that Suneela Zaigham et al. conducted, considered an analysis that included the adjustment of potential factors. This is what they found: 

  • 1 standard deviation reduction in FEV1 was associated with a Hazard Ratio (HR) for Sudden Cardiac Death of 1.23 (95% Confidence Interval (CI) 1.15 - 1.31).
  •   However, 1 standard deviation in FEV1 was associated with a lower (but significant) risk of non-fatal events with a Hazard Ratio (HR) of 1.08 (95% CI, 1.04 – 1.13; P (probability) for equal associations = .002).
  • ·  The results were the same among participants who had never smoked, with a Hazard Ratio for Sudden Cardiac Death of 1.34 (95% Confidence Interval, 1.15 – 1.55). The HR for non-fatal events was 1.11 (95% CI, 1.02 – 1.21; P (probability) for equal associations =.038). 


Those figures show a higher risk of fatal coronary events than non-fatal ones, even in people whose lung function was slightly below the normal range (but still considered normal). Therefore, this suggests that there exists a relationship between lung health and Sudden Cardiac Death.


In fact, Dr. Zaigham reported that a low FEV1 was indeed associated with both, Sudden Cardiac Death, and non-fatal coronary events; but in addition, a low FEV1 was strongly associated with the prediction of Sudden Cardiac Death.


She also suggests taking advantage of spirometry early in life, as this simple test can go a long way in stratifying the risk of Sudden Cardiac Death. In other words, the use of spirometry is a great tool to reduce cardiovascular risks.