Comparison of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Congestive Heart Failure

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and congestive heart failure (CHF) can make you breathe hard. Both of these serious conditions also share symptoms and other common risk factors. However, the causes and treatment of COPD and CHF differ greatly.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

COPD is actually a general term for some types of serious respiratory conditions that affect the small respiratory tract in the lungs, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. In bronchitis, the respiratory tract that extends from the trachea to the lungs is irritated. Emphysema occurs when an airbag in the lungs where oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange is severely damaged. Both of these diseases make the lungs unable to work fully, making it difficult for you to breathe.

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

CHF occurs when the heart becomes too weak to pump blood along the body. Because blood is not pumped out of the heart effectively, fluid levels can accumulate, which is called "congestive." When blood returns or collects in the heart, the heart tends to beat faster and widen to handle more blood volume, resulting in heart failure worsening. This condition is even more serious because reduced blood to the kidneys causes sodium and fluid to build up.

What are the same symptoms?

Shortness of breath and sighs are symptoms of COPD and CHF. Breathing difficulties are usually experienced after physical activity and tend to develop slowly. For example, you might notice that you are out of breath after climbing a few stairs. As COPD and CHF worsen, shortness of breath or sighs may appear with little exertion.

A chronic cough is one of the main symptoms of COPD. Coughing sometimes removes mucus from the affected respiratory tract. However, coughing can be dry. CHF patients also tend to dry a cough that produces phlegm. Phlegm is mucus which also contains blood, pus and / or bacteria.

COPD also causes tightness in the chest, while CHF does not, but you may feel your heart beating irregularly or quickly.

What are the differences?

Although it has some of the same symptoms, CHF and COPD have different causes. Heart failure can be caused by coronary artery disease (CAD), blockage of blood vessels in the heart and causes of heart attacks. Other causes include heart valve disease, high blood pressure, and heart muscle disease.

The most common cause of COPD is smoking. A history of smoking does not guarantee you will have COPD, but certainly increases the chances of developing respiratory problems. Smoking is also a risk factor for heart disease and CHF.

Some cases of COPD may be associated with passive smoking or inhaling chemicals in the workplace. COPD history in the family can also increase the chances of developing the condition.

Lifestyle and treatment

Because smoking can cause COPD and CHF, you may be advised to stop the habit as well as your current health condition.

Regular physical activity is also important for strengthening the heart and lungs. However, both COPD and CHF can limit the type of exercise you can do. Talk to your doctor about activities that are safe for you, as well as prevention that you must do before and during exercise.

As you would expect, the type of medication given to COPD and CHF patients is different. COPD drugs are generally bronchodilators, which relax the muscles around the respiratory tract, which helps you breathe more easily. There is a short bronchodilator, which lasts up to 6 hours. Bronchodilators are usually recommended when you want to be more active. Bronchodilators that last a long time can last up to 12 hours and are used every day. COPD severity will determine the type of bronchodilator that is best for you.

If you have severe COPD, you may also need inhaled glucocorticosteroid. Steroids help reduce inflammation of the respiratory tract.

CHF can involve several uses of several drugs. Among the main drugs to help the heart are vasodilators, which are useful for dilating blood vessels and lowering blood pressure, and help reduce the burden on the heart. Other key drugs include diuretics. Diuretics reduce the amount of fluid and sodium in the body and can also help lower blood pressure. A drug called digoxin strengthens heart contractions and is very important in the treatment of CHF for many patients.

Anticoagulant medications may also be beneficial because they reduce the risk of blood clots. Oxygen therapy, which delivers oxygen to the lungs through a tube in the nose, is often used in cases of serious CHF and COPD.

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