Cardiopulmonary disease is disease which involves both the heart and lungs. It may be known as heart-lung disease or heart and lung disease, and it can take a number of forms. Left untreated, cardiopulmonary disease can be deadly. Treatment of such diseases may be overseen by a medical specialist such as a cardiologist, and can involve a team of physicians to ensure that a patient gets the most appropriate care. It is advisable to see a specialist with experience in this area when receiving treatment to receive the most up to date and aggressive treatments available.
The heart and lungs are closely linked, and problems which involve one organ can also spill over into the other. For example, someone with coronary artery disease has trouble pumping blood efficiently to the lungs for oxygenation, and someone with asthma may not be able to fully oxygenate blood because of his or her impaired breathing. The close connections between the heart and the lungs can also result in cascading reactions which complicate medical issues and generate medical emergencies quickly when a patient is having health problems.
People with cardiopulmonary disease can experience symptoms like shortness of breath, dizziness, bluing of the extremities, chest pain, high blood pressure, and dyspnea, in which they stop breathing altogether. Commonly people feel wheezy, and may experience chest pain after exercising or while struggling to breathe. Over time, the symptoms can worsen.
Cardiopulmonary disease can involve inflammation which shuts down the airways and narrows the coronary arteries, along with infections and ongoing disease processes. One example of cardiopulmonary disease is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which makes it hard to breathe and results in subsequent heart problems for the patient over time. The heart is strained by the extra work it has to engage in to get blood through the lungs for oxygenation, and may eventually give out.
If cardiopulmonary disease is suspected, a doctor will order lung function tests to learn more about the status of the lungs. She or he may also order studies of the heart, including medical imaging studies to visualize the heart, and an electrocardiograph to record the electrical signals from the heart. These tests are used to assess current levels of functioning and to gather information which could shed light upon the patient's condition. Treatment options can include medications, diet and exercise recommendations, surgery, and recommendations for lifestyle changes which will keep the patient more comfortable.