COPD and Congestive Heart Failure

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may occur along with congestive heart failure (CHF), and the two diseases also share risk factors as well as clinical signs and symptoms. During CHF the heart loses its ability to pump blood which leads to reduction of oxygen passing to muscles and organs. Cor pulmonale, also known as right-sided heart failure is one of the major complications of COPD. Since the blood is not being properly circulated, fluid backs up in the lungs and lower parts of the body, hence the name "congestive" (congestion). COPD makes it hard to breathe and progressively gets worse over time. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death, and is characterized by coughing that produces large amounts of mucus, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and other symptoms.

Fast Facts:

  • COPD makes the heart work harder, especially the right side, which pumps blood into the lungs.
  • Swelling in the lower parts of the body is usually seen in a patient with COPD and is a sign of right-sided heart failure.
  • The prevalence of cor pulmonale rises as COPD worsens.
  • Cigarette smoking in patients with COPD increases the risk for heart failure by 50%.
  • Any condition that leads to pulmonary hypertension, or high blood pressure within the blood vessels of the lungs, can put a strain on the right side of the heart.