Is There A Link Between COPD and Heart Failure?

Although heart failure and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) are different health conditions, both have some link between them. For instance, both conditions can cause shortness of breath when you do a physical activity, like climbing stairs, walking, or exercising. But breathing problems are often caused due to different reasons with these conditions.
With COPD, you will find it harder to exhale air because of lung damage that may arise from years of smoking. People with COPD can breathe comfortably when they’re at rest. However, when they perform an activity, their breath starts coming in before their last exhale leaves the lungs. This results in shortness of breath.
On the other hand, heart failure results from difficulty or inability to pump blood efficiently. People with heart failure can breathe easily at rest. However, with activity, blood flow must increase, and the heart must pump faster and harder. If your heart is unable to keep up, blood will likely back up into your lungs. This will result in fluid congestion that causes shortness of breath.

Left-Sided Heart Failure and COPD

Left-sided heart failure is not directly related to COPD. It is often caused by coronary artery disease or high blood pressure. However, COPD and left-sided heart failure may influence each other. For example, COPD causes low oxygen in the blood, which may put extra strain on the heart. This worsens left-sided failure. And extra fluid congestion in your lungs can make breathing even harder if you are suffering from COPD.

Right-Sided Heart Failure and COPD

Severe COPD can cause right-sided heart failure or failure in your heart’s lower right chamber. This causes fluid to form in your body, such as in your belly and legs. Besides COPD, other conditions can also contribute to right-sided failure.

How do you know which condition is causing breathing problems?

If you have both heart and COPD and suffer from shortness of breath, it’s hard to tell which of these conditions is causing breathing problems. It is advisable to visit your Cardiologist in Houston immediately if you feel short of breath.
Your doctor may give you:

Physical examination

Your doctor will listen to your heart and lungs and look at the veins near your neck. This will help them tell the difference between heart failure and COPD.

Chest X-ray

A chest x-ray can help your doctor find which condition is causing you breathing problems. Failure can cause fluid in your lungs while lungs are usually clear or may look over-inflated if you have COPD.

Brain Natriuretic Peptide Test

People with heart failure usually have high levels of this hormone in their blood, whether they have COPD.

Pulmonary Function Test

PFT and other breathing tests can help your doctor diagnose COPD.

That said, it is essential to mention that every case is unique. But know that one condition can worsen the other. So if you are experiencing such health issues, make sure to see your doctor as soon as possible.