Copd and heart failure heart failure guidebook

COPD: a concomitant disease of heart failureAbout ten percent of the German population is estimated to suffer from COPD. 1 This means that more people are affected by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than by asthma, pneumonia and lung cancer combined. 2 Approximately one third of COPD patients also suffer from heart failure. 3 Learn all about the disease here.


The lung disease COPD is also known as smokers lung.

COPD: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

COPD is the international common term for the English Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and stands in German mainly for two chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases: 4

– chronic obstructive bronchitis (COB) – emphysema (too much air in the lungs, destroyed lung tie)

In common parlance, the lung disease COPD is also called Smoker's lung known. Chronic Diseases are persistent conditions that develop over time (often insidiously and inconspicuously for a long time). Obstructive means occluding or constricting.

COPD represents a permanent disease that is over the course of time leads to narrowing of the airways. As a result, the airflow (mainly during exhalation) obstructs and reduces the Breathing impaired. Doctors divide chronic obstructive pulmonary disease into four stages. 5 This is done in percentages depending on the set point of lung function:

– mild (GOLD I): more than 80 percent – moderate (GOLD II): between 80 and 50 percent – severe (GOLD III): between 50 and 30 percent – very severe (GOLD IV): less than 30 percent

The respective target value of lung function Doctors determine with consideration of the patient's age, gender and size. In the meantime, COPD is considered to systemic Disease, as it affects the whole organism, especially in the more severe stage. Often concomitant diseases such as heart failure are present.

What are the causes of COPD?

While the exact causes of some systemic diseases are unknown, it is relatively clear in the case of COPD: In Germany, around 90 percent of COPD cases by Smoking Causes. 6

Smoking is in the first place

Contamination of the lungs: Cigarette smoke contains vast quantities of tiny particles that enter the lungs during smoking and accumulate on mucous membranes.

paralysis and destruction of ciliaThey can no longer reliably remove the pollutants in the lungs. The notorious Smoker's cough, with which the body tries to clean the lungs as well as possible through increased mucus production and violent coughing is the consequence. Obstructing the absorption of oxygen in the alveoli of the lungs: The nicotine contained inhibits the absorption of oxygen. Affected persons experience shortness of breath or shortness of breath. Irritation of the bronchi: Nicotine also causes hypersensitivity of the bronchial tubes, which in turn leads more frequently to inflammation of the airways.

Compared to nonsmokers, smokers have a 13 times higher risk, to develop COPD. 8 The risk continues to increase with each year in smokers, depending on the amount.

It is problematic if people smoke regularly even in their youth: Apart from the substances that damage the lungs smoking impedes normal lung growth. This also causes children who are regularly exposed to smoke in their family environment (Passive smoking), for more frequent respiratory infections and a higher risk of developing COPD later in life. 9

Other triggers of COPD

In addition to active and passive smoking, in rare cases COPD also involves a genetic predisposition Possible: Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, which runs in families, can also be the cause of COPD. Even if people regularly large quantities of particulate matter COPD can develop when people are exposed to dust and other small particles, for example in the mining industry.

Symptoms: How does COPD manifest itself?

COPD develops insidious and long inconspicuous. 10 In some cases, it takes decades for those affected to notice the first limitations in their lung function.

COPD often first becomes apparent in old age noticeable when the airways are narrowed to such an extent that the amount of air breathed is no longer sufficient. Often the affected person notices this in familiar everyday situations: At Climbing stairs they have to take a break or they can become infected during Walking no longer entertain at the same time. Many patients then mistakenly ame that advancing age is the cause.

But it is crucial to detect developing COPD at an early stage. In particular, people who smoke regularly should be alert to the following Symptoms eighth

Smoker's cough with sputum: Due to severe irritation of the bronchial tubes and contamination of the lungs, there is increased mucus production and severe coughing. If this lasts longer than eight weeks, you should have it checked out by a doctor. They are caused by the strong irritation. Sensitivity of the mucous membranes in the bronchi. Shortness of breath and shortness of breath on exertion, Breathing sounds and Feeling of tightness in the chest indicate constriction of the bronchi.


Breathing difficulties when climbing stairs can be the first sign of COPD.

These complaints may already be the first alarm signs of COPD. The Impact affect not only the lungs at a later stage, but also the brain Body and psyche as a whole. In all likelihood, other impairments are added, some of which resemble those of heart failure:

– Breathlessness at rest – Decrease in muscle mass and bone density – Decline in performance – Rapid weight loss – Psychological problems

COPD patients also repeatedly suffer from sudden attacks of the disease, in which the symptoms acutely worsen. In this case, physicians speak of Exacerbations. In case of medication they should be given special consideration.

A case for specialists

COPD as a concomitant disease of heart failure

The symptoms of COPD are partly similar to those of heart failure: here, too, sufferers often notice shortness of breath, even shortness of breath, and a reduced physical capacity. In fact COPD In the more severe stage also lead to heart failure:

– The overinflation (emphysema) causes increased resistance in the lungs. – The right ventricle of the heart has to pump harder to get blood to the lungs. – At the same time, blood backs up into the pulmonary artery and the right ventricle of the heart. – This, in turn, expands, reducing pumping power.

Doctors then speak of Cor pulmonale, the greatest complication of COPD. In consequence it can lead to Right heart failure come.

Treatment options for COPD: Preventing exacerbation if possible

COPD is not curable. 12 All therapeutic options are aimed at alleviating symptoms, maintaining the current condition and preventing a slow down the progression of the disease. Concomitant diseases, such as heart failure, are also positively influenced by certain measures.

What the doctor can do for you

In COPD therapy, different Medication available, which the Reduce symptoms and mitigate acute episodes of illness or even prevent it altogether. Which medicines are used also with heart failure, the lung specialist co-ordinates individually with the patient.

Medications are available in the form of acute and long-acting preparations. Patients usually inhale the active ingredient with the help of an inhaler, thus reducing the muscle tension in the bronchial tubes and thus widening the airways. Rarely, doctors prescribe additional drugs, for example in tablet or drop form. In more severe cases, the Long-term oxygen therapy with oxygen equipment or the non-invasive ventilation therapy come into play via masks.

What you can do for yourself

People with COPD also have several ways to support drug treatment:

Smoking cessation: In people with COPD, it means that the bronchial tubes are no longer as sensitive and irritable. Immediately at the start of weaning, COPD patients sometimes even notice an improvement in their lung function.
Physical training: Regular exercise and sports in the fresh air improve oxygen exchange in the lungs and counteract muscle loss.
Respiratory therapy: Here, patients learn certain breathing techniques that enable better air circulation in the lungs.
healthy diet: A diet tailored to the disease has a positive influence on the disease process. Ask your doctor for advice on this.

Through Combination COPD patients can often overcome the effects of drug treatment with a change of lifestyle Slowing the course of the disease and avoid or delay secondary diseases. Measures such as smoking cessation, exercise and a healthy diet can also have a positive effect on concomitant diseases.

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