Lung & Heart are Twins in Health and Illness

World Heart Day ( 29th Sepetmeber)

Heart_dayNew Delhi, September 29:  Lung and heart are like ‘twins’ living in the same room called thoracic cavity but they become happy and sad together. If one is ill, other is bound to be ill too. If you look at the picture, it seems lungs are two hands which are holding heart. So, treating them as separate identities is a fallacy. In fact they custom made for each other. They underpin each other in their state of being. Heart specialists have been advised to take into account lung health while treating heart patients.

Strong evidences have emerged making lung health a vital factor in cardiovascular health. This has altered the epidemiology of heart disease and lung disease has made its place among risk factors in heart disease. A big ticket recent study has concluded that a lung disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease (COPD), increases risk of cardio vascular Disease five times more than any other conventional risk factors.

In the light of emerging new facts, doctors treating heart patients must take into account the presence of COPD and other lung conditions. So far, lung condition was not included in assorted risk factors for cardiovascular conditions. But given the fact that lung is under severe strain due to ever increasing pollution, lung might be a triggering factor in cardiovascular diseases.

But, it has now strongly emerged that lung function is a major risk factor for cardiovascular events and that diminished lung power is a better pointer of a heart being in dire straits than blood cholesterol or other ‘official’ risk factors. New understanding, supported by strong evidences, put the state of lung as being one of the first predicator of heart health. Similarly, improvement in the health of one is invariably passed on to another.

A simple understanding of functions of these vital organs leaves no doubt about them being intimately wedded. For their function and survival, they are inseparably bound up together. The sole purpose of left ventricle of the heart is to pump blood into the lungs. The lungs in turn routes purified blood into the left side of the heart.

Dr. Gaurav Minocha, Senior Consultant, Department of Cardiology, Max Vaishali, on the occasion of World Heart Day on September 29, said to reporters that walking in speed at least one hour daily is vital for the health of heart but then, we must take into account what kind of air is around. If the air is severely polluted, we advise doing treadmill instead of going out to walk. Of course, the health of lung is intimately connected with the health of heart. Yes, lung must be taken as a risk factor while assessing the health of heart and we are doing that.

They being such fellow travellers, it is only natural they are intimately leveraged on each other for their health. Lung being in a state or illness means heart can in no way be hunky dory. In the same vein, the left ventricle’s illness percolates down to lungs filling their alveoli with fluid. Lungs’ illness precipitates stress for both the right and the left ventricles. Some studies have underlined  strong epidemiological link between two vital organs long ago, got lost in the way. According to these studies the link is even stronger than the association between high blood cholesterol levels and the risk of cardiovascular death.

Lung function is now being recognised as a major risk factor for cardiovascular outcomes. A recent study done in UK involving over a million people above the age of 35 years concluded that patients of COPD had a 5-fold increased odds of having cardiovascular disease. COPD has been shown to increase the risk of arrhythmias, systemic hypertension, angina, acute myocardial infarction and congestive cardiac failure (CCF). Patients with COPD, who present primarily with breathlessness as a symptom, have an almost 2-fold increased risk of having associated coronary heart disease.

This suggests that cardiac complications may start to develop early in the course of COPD and may remain subclinical for a long time. Most importantly, COPD patients do not primarily die due to COPD, but due to heart disease. Therefore, all patients of COPD must be routinely screened for CCF, ischemic heart disease and hypertension. Similarly, all patients with CCF, ischemic heart disease and hypertension should be routinely screened for COPD.