Let’s face the fact. When you have problems breathing, many other body parts can be affected, not just your lungs. Replenishing cells and organs with oxygen is needed to keep us alive and well. So when your lungs are not functioning properly, as is the case with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), invariably your heart function is at risk. Right? Are COPD sufferers at higher risk for heart disease?
COPD Sufferers at Higher Risk for Heart Disease
In order to understand the connection between COPD and heart disease, it is important to understand how the lungs and heart work in sync with one another. During breathing, we take oxygen into our lungs which then gets into our blood and moves over to the heart. This vital organ then is entrusted to pump oxygenated blood into our circulation.
With COPD, the individual’s lungs do not function properly. Over the years as this disease progresses the lungs become damaged and the ability to keep air moving freely is lost. And hence, oxygen is not getting into the blood or the heart as it should. With less than optimal levels of oxygen, the heart needs to work harder and harder to circulate the little oxygen that is present. Not surprising then that over the years with the heart working at its maximum capacity, the strain can damage and weaken this all-important muscle.
Over the years, there have been quite a number of research studies that have investigated the relationship between COPD and heart disease. In May 2014 at the American Thoracic Society meeting, researchers at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta presented the latest findings about the relationship between COPD and heart disease. In evaluating almost 400 million hospital discharge records across the country in a 9-year span, they learned that close to 29 percent of patients with COPD had heart failure as opposed to 13 percent who did not suffer from COPD. In addition, they found that as people with COPD increased in age so did their risk of heart failure compared to those individuals without COPD.
Interestingly enough, a study conducted in Canada discovered that it was also vitally important to take medication as prescribed for COPD in order to prevent heart issues. Results published in JAMA showed that older patients who take long-acting bronchodilators for their COPD need to be closely monitored. Twenty-eight percent of patients in the study were at a greater risk of having a heart attack, heart failure, stroke or developing a heart arrhythmia.
What Can Help?
If you happen to have both COPD and heart disease, there are some tips to keep the negative effects to your health at a minimum. Here are a couple that can help:
- If you are a smoker, try quitting or cutting back.
- Lose weight by exercising with a doctor approved plan.
- Follow a healthy and well-balanced diet. Consume less saturated fat, processed snacks, soda and items with additives and preservatives. Instead reach for whole grains, green-leaf vegetables, fruit and olive or grape seed oil for cooking.
- Drink plenty of water and decrease alcohol consumption.
- Take medications at prescribed by your physician.