Heart Health and COPD
Last updated: July 2019
We should all be aware that the progression of one disease can often lead to deficiencies in other internal organs. Our lungs and heart make up an important part of our cardiovascular system. Each organ is dependent on the other to work efficiently. So, as one organ becomes inefficient, the other organs need to step up and work harder. This can cause a strain that often has a negative effect on one or both organs.
Let’s take a quick look at the function of the heart
The heart has two sides. The right heart pumps blood across the chest and into the lungs where it picks up oxygen and other nutrients and takes it back to the left heart. The left heart can now distribute this oxygen-enriched blood up and down the body to all the other organs. It is a fine-tuned machine until it fails us.
Heart Failure in patients with COPD causes us to be short of breath so often that we become accustomed to it. We don’t realize that this situation can have huge negative impact on our heart. When patients are prescribed supplemental 02, it allows the lungs to function more efficiently without straining the right side of the heart. However, some will ignore doctor’s orders and refuse to use it. This continued shortness of breath could mean that we are adding a strain to our heart function. Over time, this continued strain on our heart could put our very life in danger as the right side of the heart loses it elasticity and can no longer pump blood as efficiently as necessary. Ignoring these signs could lead to Right-Sided Heart Failure for which there is no cure or medical intervention.
Heart Attack is said to be a plumbing issue that clogs pipes known as the arteries. They get clogged with plaque build-up and lifesaving blood with its oxygen and other nutrients cannot pass through. Some of the reasons for this build-up of plaque are high fat or cholesterol in the vessels that block or impede blood flow. This decrease in blood flow will cause the heart muscle to die. Once this damage happens, it cannot be repaired, so medical intervention and time are of the essence.
Sudden cardiac arrest
Sudden Cardiac Arrest is an electrical problem of the heart. While a person with a heart attack will be able to talk to you and tell you what has happened, a person with a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) will not be conscious. One of the causes of SCA is when we put our lungs and heart under excess strain and our heart begins to beat so fast it becomes tacky and cannot resume a normal pattern. Once the SCA has occurred, there is no pulse and the heart is not beating. Without lifesaving CPR, death is imminent.
This is the cause of many teenage athletes dropping dead on the football field or the hockey arena as they speed to the goal line. There are often no signs or symptoms leading up to this attack. This has caused a huge push to have automated external defibrillators (AEDs) that are meant to be used by non-professionals. They are now being found in arenas and football fields all over North America.
Do you feel comfortable asking your doctor questions about your COPD?