Features April 2010 Issue

COPD May Limit Your Heart Function

Restricted air flow forces your heart to work harder, but treatments can ease the burden.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) damages the airways and restricts air from exiting the lungs normally. Patients with severe COPD can develop a serious heart condition called cor pulmonale, which weakens the heartís ability to pump. Now a study published in the January 21 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine is the first to show that mild-to-moderate emphysema, a common form of COPD, also affects the heart. The study indicates emphysema-induced changes in heart function may appear long before cor pulmonale.

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