Aortic Stenosis and COPD
Last updated: August 2022
Nearly half of the adults living in the United States have some form of heart disease and about 1 in 10 adults in the United States have a chronic lung disease. Therefore, it makes sense that some of these conditions will overlap in certain people. However, people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are more likely to have heart disease than people who do not have COPD.1-3
What is aortic stenosis?
Heart disease can take on many forms. One form of heart disease is a condition known as aortic stenosis (AS). AS occurs when the valve between your heart and your major artery called the aorta narrows. This means your heart cannot pump as much blood to your body as it is supposed to. Your heart will have to pump harder to make the blood move through your body. If your heart works harder than it has to for a long time, it can cause damage to the heart muscles.4
Mild and severe symptoms
AS can have mild or severe symptoms. Often, the symptoms and how severe they are will depend on how long you have had AS. AS can cause irregular heartbeat and heart murmurs. It can also cause symptoms that are very similar to COPD. These include:4
- Chest pain, tightness, or fainting
- Dizziness or feeling faint
- Shortness of breath
All of these symptoms are usually worse with activity.4
Since COPD and AS have similar symptoms, people may have both conditions and not know it. Doctors have done studies showing that people with AS should be tested for COPD. They have also done studies that show that people with COPD should be tested for AS. These conditions often happen together, which is known as a comorbidity.6,7
How is AS linked to COPD?
Doctors do not fully understand how AS and COPD are linked. COPD can cause a reduced amount of oxygen in the body. Doctors think this can cause the aortic valve to harden and get smaller. This is a theory based on tests that have been run in laboratories.5
In a small study, doctors found that people with moderate to severe AS have more rapid progression of the condition if they also have COPD. Doctors also note that people who have AS and COPD have to be treated differently. COPD can complicate surgeries. People with AS may have to be treated without surgery if they also have moderate to severe COPD.5,6
While doctors do not fully understand the link between COPD and AS, they do know there is a connection. Doctors know that both conditions can cause similar symptoms. They know that AS and COPD are both conditions that can be severe and may lead to other health problems.
Discuss with your doctor
If you have any questions about AS, talk to your doctor. They can help you understand how your symptoms may overlap and what your best treatments may be. If you are worried that you may have AS, let your doctor know. Your doctor will be able to help you find the best treatment and testing plan for your needs.
Do you know the difference between a COPD exacerbation and lung function decline?
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