Carolyn's Collection

The Heart / Lung Connection
part one
There have been questions here on the lists and in the chatroom lately about how our heart and Lungs work together.   Now I am not sure I understand it all myself but here is a little something one our Angels put together and he did such a fine job I would have trouble getting that much info in such a small place<g> and still making it so we can all understand it.  
There is a 2nd part which I will send tomorrow.

Take Care
Carolyn Mi

******************

Most of us have COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) or, we are
the caretakers and/or loved ones of people that have COPD....
Some of us have other diseases or afflictions as well...As we have been painfully reminded in the recent past, coping with COPD is only part of the battle.

We must learn all we can about COPD, our own predominant causative component of COPD, and we also need to learn as much as possible concerning symptoms that might indicate the beginnings of other diseases. Some of our medications can contribute to diseases such as diabetes, thyroid malfunctioning and others caused by hormonal imbalances....
and, I don't want to alarm anyone but,....
If we do not learn to cope with our COPD there is a good chance that our hearts will be affected (more than they already are)....

Of all the various heart diseases, the one that is most likely to occur in COPDers is "CHF"..(Congestive heart Failure)..

The classic symptoms of CHF, according to Dr. Koop and the signs to look for are as follows:
* Weakness and fatigue,
*Shortness of breath during even light activity or while laying down,
* wheezing may result that is sometimes mistaken for asthma,
*The need to sleep on more pillows than usual or to sleep sitting up,
*Swelling in the feet, ankles or legs,
*Dull ache or pain in the chest,
*Persistent cough with foamy,
blood-speckled mucous,
* A feeling of abdominal fullness,
*Weight gain from fluid retention,
* The frequent need to urinate,especially at night,
*A swelling of neck veins,
*Nausea, vomiting, and/or loss of appetite,
*irregular or rapid heartbeat.....

As you can see many of the symptoms of CHF mimic the symptoms of   COPD....
We can get a better understanding of this if we first understand a little bit of how the lungs work and the relationship between the lungs (which are basically filtering devices) and the heart (which is a muscle that continuously pumps blood to all of the organs of our bodies)

Oxygen depleted, carbon dioxide laden blood from the body flows into the
heart through the two largest veins (the venae cavae) in the right chamber (atrium) of the heart..When the right atrium fills it pumps the blood into the right ventricle which fills and propels the blood through the pulmonary valve into the pulmonary arteries which supply the lungs...

The carbon dioxide in this blood is exchanged for oxygen in the lungs (diffusion)..It takes place between the alveoli and the capillaries which surround them..this thin wall separating the alveoli and capllaries is only the thickness of one cell...The carbon dioxide is then exhaled and the oxygen enriched blood flows through the pulmonary veins into the left atrium of the heart.

When the left atrium fills it propels the blood into the left ventricle, which fills and pumps the blood through the aortic valve into the aorta (the largest artery in the
body) This oxygen enriched blood then supplies all of the organs and tissues of the body except the lungs...
OK ....
Veins and the smaller venules carry blood towards the heart and arteries and the smaller arterioles carry blood from the heart...
The capillaries allow oxygen and nutrients to pass from the blood in the arteries and arterioles into the tissues and organs and allow the waste products to pass from the tissues and organs into the venules and then into the veins that lead back to the heart.

When the blood that reaches our tissues and organs does not contain enough oxygen the brain is notified and it sends a signal to our hearts to get busy and pump more blood...
The heart responds by beating faster to make us breathe faster to get oxygen  to our lungs...
we get short of breath because we are breathing faster and the more short of breath we get the less oxygen our lungs can supply to the blood and......
well,
...you get the picture I am sure.....

The reverse is true if we can not dispose of carbon dioxide by exhaling enough of it ( causing CO2 retention)...
too much carbon dioxide in the blood and the brain signals the heart to slow down the breathing and and our respiration rates can drop dangerously low and in some cases stop completely.........

This is a good place to stop for now....

In Part 2 of this Summary (You have been warned) we will discuss some of the ways we can help keep our blood oxygen levels higher and our breathing rates lower so that our hearts won't have to work so hard and maybe last a little longer.....
We will discuss things we should avoid if we can and some adjustments in
lifestyle we need to make....

  Reference materials by Dr. Koop, and in addition, the Merck Manual of
  Medical Information "Home Edition" (my interpretation therof) and a
  reminder that the above is my opinion only and all of the usual
  disclaimers apply....

  Breathe easy and for a long time
  Don Martin(at the beautiful Lake of the OZarks in Missouri)