COPD: When Lungs Break, the Heart Often Follows

 “To breathe is to live, and without breath there is no life” is a basic view of yoga. This is very apparent for those who struggle to be able to breathe.

If you suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, each breath you take can be a major struggle. COPD is a serious disease that narrows your airways and makes it hard to breathe. Over time, COPD can get worse. Once there is damage to the lungs, it can’t be corrected.

Congestive heart failure is another medical condition that is tied to COPD. The heart and lungs are closely connected. When they are healthy, the lungs and heart work together to make sure every part of your body gets the oxygen it needs.

When they do not get oxygen, the heart and lungs can work against each other to make your health get worse. Low oxygen in the blood caused from COPD can put too much strain on the heart, worsening heart failure. Extra fluid in the lungs from heart failure can also make breathing harder for someone with COPD.
It may not be the only condition you’re living with.

There are other conditions that co-exist with COPD that you could also have. These may include lung cancer, diabetes, depression, sleep apnea, and even asthma. A sudden illness like the flu or pneumonia can become serious for people with COPD. Your doctor will have to monitor the medicine you take for all your conditions to make sure they do not cause your COPD or any of the other health problems to become worse.

Smoking is the main cause of COPD. If you quit smoking, it can help slow down the progress of the disease and also prevent complications.
If you smoke, and are having difficulty breathing, you should talk with your doctor. Your doctor may need to screen you for COPD. Talk to your doctor about products and programs that can help you quit smoking.

Other causes of COPD include:

  • Asthma
  • Long-term or heavy exposure to secondhand smoke and other air pollutants
  • Heavy exposure to chemical fumes and dust in the workplace
  • Frequent respiratory infections, especially during childhood
  • Indoor air pollution from cleaning products, burning wood in fireplaces, or scented candles

Try to avoid these irritants. If your home is being painted or sprayed for insects, have it done while you are away for a while. Try to keep your windows closed and stay indoors when pollen counts or ozone rates are high.
Follow your doctor’s orders exactly for treating COPD. It can help you breathe easier, stay active, and help avoid or manage severe symptoms. Talk with your doctor about whether and when you should get flu and pneumonia shots. These vaccines can lower your chances of getting these illnesses. Both are major health risks for people who have COPD.

Call your doctor if you notice that your symptoms are worse or if you have signs of an infection, such as a fever. Your doctor may change or adjust your treatments to relieve and treat symptoms.

Seek emergency help if your medicine isn’t working and:

  • Your fingernails or lips become blue or gray
  • Your heart beats irregularly or very fast
  • You find it hard to talk or walk
  • Your breathing is hard and fast, even when you are taking your medicine

The most important 2 things you can do if you have COPD are to quit smoking and get regular medical care. If you are under the medical care of a doctor who can track your illness, it will help you be on your way for success in managing the COPD. Quit smoking now, and find a PCP who can help you monitor your health!

Comment

SIGN IN to share your comments or REGISTER today to become a Connect member.