Should I Worry About My Breathing Problems?

Wednesday, 26 Jun 2013 10:07 AM

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Question: I have had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for several years, and lately have noticed when my breathing gets worse my heart rate goes up tremendously. Is this normal with this disease?
Dr. Hibberd’s answer:
When your body senses a lower level of oxygen being delivered to your organs and tissues, it can trigger a reflexive increase in breathing and your heart rate. Increased breathing produces other changes in our bodies that can also cause an elevation in heart rate.
In addition, infections, fluid loss, fever and lung disorders can all boost your heart rate, so all these factors may play a role in your symptoms and the flaring of your COPD. Some patients with severe COPD develop a right heart failure state called cor pulmonale, and this too will also increase their heart rate.

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