Cardiopulmonary Disease: Everything You Need to Know

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In the United States, millions of patients suffer from cardiopulmonary disease. This disease can affect the entire body. But few people know they’re at risk or even what these conditions mean for their overall health.

Early diagnosis of cardiopulmonary disease can help prevent further damage. But that does you little good if you don’t know what to look for in the first place.

Ultimately, understanding the development of cardiopulmonary disease and when to seek treatment is crucial for long-term health. However, this information is not a replacement for licensed medical advice. Always consult with your doctor if you present with any of the symptoms mentioned below.

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With that said, what is cardiopulmonary disease? And how can you stop it from taking over your life?

CARDIOPULMONARY DISEASE AND RELATED CONDITIONS

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Cardiopulmonary disease includes a variety of conditions that affect the heart and lungs.

Of these conditions, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and cardiovascular disease are the two most prevalent. In fact, almost half of the adult population in the United States has some form of cardiovascular disease.

Since these two conditions are responsible for so many cases of cardiopulmonary disease, let’s take a closer look at their symptoms, risks, and treatment.

WHAT IS CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE?

Your health care provider will probably carry out a series of tests to diagnose cardiovascular disease. Some of these tests may include:

Cardiovascular disease is almost any type of disease that involves your blood vessels or heart. Common examples of these conditions include strokes, heart failure, and heart attacks.

The good news is that by making healthy lifestyle choices, you can treat and even prevent some forms of heart disease:

WATCH OUT FOR THESE SYMPTOMS AND RISK FACTORS

Symptoms of cardiovascular disease include discomfort or pain in your arms, jaw, or elbows, as well as pressure or pain in your chest, fatigue, nausea, and shortness of breath.

Risk factors for cardiovascular disease include radiation therapy, high blood pressure, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, stress, and diabetes.

One of the most common causes of cardiovascular disease is atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the accumulation of fatty plaque along the artery walls. When this accumulation occurs, it can reduce or completely stop the flow of blood.

Smoking, high body weight, unhealthy diet, and lack of physical activity can lead to atherosclerosis.

HOW YOUR DOCTOR WILL DIAGNOSE AND TREAT CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE

Your health care provider will probably carry out a series of tests to diagnose cardiovascular disease. Some of these tests may include:

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  • Blood tests
  • Physical examination
  • Stress test
  • CT scan
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Echocardiogram

It’s important to note that treatments for cardiovascular disease differ by condition. For example, your doctor might recommend antibiotics if you have an infection. But this won’t work for someone whose condition is a result of build-up in the arteries.

Generally, the most popular cardiovascular disease treatments include:

LIFESTYLE CHANGES

MEDICATION

SURGERY

WHAT IS CHRONIC OBSTRUCTIVE PULMONARY DISORDER (COPD)?

Did you know that about 30 million Americans suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (or COPD)? Even worse, half of these patients are completely unaware that they suffer from this condition.

COPD is an umbrella term for a group of progressive lung conditions. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the most common conditions within this grouping.

Emphysema damages air sacs (called alveoli) in your lungs. When this damage occurs, your body is unable to absorb the right amount of oxygen.

Chronic bronchitis, on the other hand, produces inflammation of the airways (called the bronchi). Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease. However, the right treatment can help decrease complications and relieve symptoms.

If left untreated, COPD will gradually become worse and can even cause heart problems.

WATCH OUT FOR THESE SYMPTOMS AND RISK FACTORS

Symptoms of COPD may include wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, coughing, lack of energy, unexpected weight loss, persistent respiratory infections, and swelling in the legs, feet, or ankles.

As you can see, signs of COPD aren’t necessarily limited to the lungs and airway.

Without a doubt, the most common cause of COPD in the U.S. is tobacco use. Around 90 percent of individuals who suffer from COPD are former or current smokers. In fact, 20 to 30 percent of all long-time smokers will develop COPD at some point.

It’s worth noting that the risk of developing COPD increases the longer you smoke. Secondhand smoke and non-cigarette smoke can also lead to this serious condition.

And if you suffer from asthma or have been exposed to certain chemicals, your risk of developing COPD is even higher.

If all of that wasn’t enough, even long-term exposure to dust and pollution could lead to this disease.

HOW YOUR DOCTOR WILL DIAGNOSE AND TREAT COPD

Your health care provider may order these tests to determine if you have COPD or a related condition:

  • CT scan
  • Chest X-ray
  • Arterial blood gas test
  • Spirometry

Treatment can slow the development of COPD, prevent complications, and alleviate symptoms.

When it comes to treating and managing COPD symptoms, your doctor might suggest:

LIFESTYLE CHANGES

MEDICATION

OXYGEN THERAPY

SURGERY

PREVENTION OF CARDIOPULMONARY DISEASE

Fortunately, many types of cardiopulmonary disease can be prevented by making simple lifestyle choices.

You can prevent the majority of cardiovascular diseases by consuming less alcohol, not smoking, maintaining a healthy diet, lowering your sodium intake, and staying active every day.

When it comes to preventing COPD, the best strategy is to never take up smoking in the first place. If you already smoke, the sooner you quit this habit, the lower your chances of developing cardiopulmonary disease.

Personal lifestyle choices, like smoking cigarettes, can affect your chance of developing COPD. However, work-related exposure to chemicals and dust can also cause this condition.

If your work requires contact with any of these irritants, use respiratory protective equipment at all times.

MANAGING LIFE WITH CARDIOPULMONARY DISEASE

For those who already have or are at increased risk for cardiopulmonary disease, regular doctor visits are a must. On top of routine medical care, your day-to-day lifestyle choices will also play a large role in your quality of life.

First and foremost, cardiopulmonary disease patients should avoid smoking — no exceptions. If you’re struggling to quit, despite the damage it’s doing to your health, reach out to a local smoking cessation program for support.

Second, avoid dust, chemical fumes, air pollution, and secondhand smoke whenever possible.

Finally, maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising and making smart dietary choices. When put together, these small changes can make a major difference in your overall health.

Do you or a loved one suffer from cardiopulmonary disease? Share your personal experiences with other patients in the comments below.

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