Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the most common chronic respiratory disease and its prevalence is increasing worldwide, in both industrialised and developing countries. Its prevalence is ~5% in the general population and it is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. COPD is strongly associated with cardiovascular diseases; in fact, ~64% of people suffering from COPD are treated for a concomitant cardiovascular disease and approximately one in three COPD patients die as a consequence of cardiovascular diseases.

Inhaled bronchodilators might have adverse cardiovascular effects, including ischaemic events and arrhythmias, and beta-blockers might adversely influence the respiratory symptoms and the response to bronchodilators. For these reasons, it is important to know the safety profiles and the possible interactions between these two classes of drug, in order to prescribe them with greater awareness.

In this article, we review the literature about the epidemiology of COPD, its association with cardiovascular diseases, and the safety of concurrent use of inhaled bronchodilators and beta-blockers, as a tool for improving the approach to complex therapies in clinical practice.