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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an inflammatory disease of the lung associated with progressive airflow limitation and punctuated by episodes of acute exacerbation. There is growing recognition that the inflammatory state associated with COPD is not confined to the lungs but also involves the systemic circulation and can impact nonpulmonary organs. Epidemiologic and mechanistic studies indicate that COPD is associated with a high frequency of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure and cardiac arrhythmias, independent of shared risk factors. Possible pathways include complex interrelationships between chronic low-grade systemic inflammation and oxidative stress as well as shared risk factors such as age, cigarette smoking, and environmental pollutants. In this review, we provide an overview of the epidemiologic data linking COPD with cardiovascular disease, comment on the interrelationships among COPD, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease, and highlight diagnostic and therapeutic challenges.