Is Cor Pulmonale?
Cor pulmonale is
a condition that most commonly arises out of complications from high blood pressure (pulmonary hypertension). It’s also
known as right-sided heart failure because it occurs within the right ventricle
of your heart. Cor pulmonale causes the right ventricle to enlarge and pump blood less effectively than it
should. The ventricle is then pushed to its limit and ultimately fails.
This condition is often prevented when the high pressure of blood
going to the lungs is controlled. However, untreated pulmonary hypertension can
eventually lead to cor pulmonale along with other related, life-threatening
of Cor Pulmonale
The symptoms of cor pulmonale may not be noticeable at first
because they’re similar to the feelings you get after a hard workout. They
- shortness of breath
- an increased heart rate
Over time, these symptoms will worsen and flare up even during
periods of rest.
Tell your doctor immediately if you have any of the following
- chest pain
- leg or feet swelling
- excessive coughing
- excessive fatigue
of Cor Pulmonale
The lungs depend on the heart to transport blood from the body to
the lungs. Pulmonary hypertension is a type of increased pressure in your
lung’s arteries and your heart’s right ventricle. This increased pressure
causes an ineffective transportation of blood to the lungs. Untreated pulmonary
hypertension is the most common cause of cor pulmonale. Other conditions that
can cause this health complication include:
- blood clots in the lungs
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- lung tissue damages
- sleep apnea
- cystic fibrosis
Any condition that causes low blood oxygen for long periods of
time can eventually cause cor pulmonale.
Cor pulmonale is diagnosed using both a physical exam and medical
testing. Your doctor will look for any abnormal heart rhythms, fluid retention,
and protruding neck veins during a physical exam.
Your doctor will also need to perform blood tests to detect
antibody levels and brain natriuretic peptide. Brain natriuretic peptide is an
amino acid made in the heart. It’s also secreted from the heart when the heart
Testing will also include:
- CT scans, which take images of parts of the body
- an echocardiogram, which uses sound waves to
produce images of your heart
- chest X-rays, which takes images of various
parts of your body
- a lung scan, which is used to detect blood clots
- lung function tests, which determine how well
your lungs work
In rare cases, your doctor may also order a lung biopsy to see if
any underlying tissue is damaged.
Pulmonary Hypertension and Cor Pulmonale
Your doctor will need to treat the causes of pulmonary
hypertension to treat cor pulmonale. Prescription medications can help decrease
blood pressure and help encourage oxygen flow back into the lungs. Diuretics
may also be used to get rid of fluid retention and to keep your blood sodium
levels down. You may also take blood thinners to prevent blood clots.
Severe or advanced cases of cor pulmonale require more aggressive
treatments such as a heart or lung transplant. Others may need to take oxygen
for People with Cor Pulmonale
The outlook for people with cor pulmonale ultimately depends on
the management of pulmonary hypertension. Cor pulmonale can also cause severe
fluid retention, difficulty breathing, and even shock. It’s life-threatening
when it’s not treated.
Talk to your doctor if you notice any changes in the way you
feel, especially if you’re currently being treated for pulmonary hypertension.
Your doctor may need to adjust your treatment plan to help prevent cor
You can prevent cor pulmonale by taking care of your heart and
lungs. Maintain a healthy weight, exercise, and eat a well-balanced diet to
avoid hypertension and heart disease.
Preventing the onset of lung disease may also help prevent this
condition. Smoking cigarettes can damage the lungs and eventually lead to cor