What is the prevalence of cor pulmonale?

Updated: Dec 15, 2017
  • Author: Derek Leong, MD; Chief Editor: Henry H Ooi, MD, MRCPI  more...
  • Print


Although the prevalence of COPD in the United States is reported to be about 15 million, the exact prevalence of cor pulmonale is difficult to determine, as physical examination and routine tests are relatively insensitive for the detection of pulmonary hypertension and RV dysfunction.

Cor pulmonale is estimated to account for 6-7% of all types of adult heart disease in the United States, with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) due to chronic bronchitis or emphysema the causative factor in more than 50% of cases. Mortality in patients with concurrent COPD and cor pulmonale is higher than that in patients with COPD alone. In addition, cor pulmonale accounts for 10-30% of decompensated heart failure–related admissions in the United States. [6]

In contrast, acute cor pulmonale is usually secondary to massive pulmonary embolism. Acute massive pulmonary thromboembolism is the most common cause of acute life-threatening cor pulmonale in adults; 50,000 deaths in the United States are estimated to occur per year from pulmonary emboli and about half occur within the first hour due to acute right heart failure.

Globally, the incidence of cor pulmonale varies widely among countries, depending on the prevalence of cigarette smoking, air pollution, and other risk factors for various lung diseases. [7]

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!