COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Either disease can damage the lungs, making it harder to breathe. COPD can also cause the small arteries of the lungs to narrow, creating high blood pressure in those arteries. When this happens, blood flow is restricted, increasing the workload on the right side of the heart.
Over time, the extra blood pressure and heightened strain on the heart may cause the right side of the heart to increase in size, as the heart muscles attempt to compensate. Eventually, this can lead to right-sided heart failure.
In right-sided heart failure, the right ventricle of the heart loses some of its ability to efficiently pump blood, and blood can accumulate in other parts of the body, producing congestion. When congestive heart failure occurs, it effects the liver, the digestive tract, and causes swelling of the limbs. Swollen wrists and ankles are common symptoms of congestive heart failure.
As the right side of the heart weakens, it becomes unable to pump adequate blood to the rest of the heart and to the lungs. Emphysema patients must be especially careful to maintain adequate oxygen saturation, in order to avoid putting too much strain on the right side of the heart.
Uncle Jim & Aunt Mary