Breathing would be nice…

Since my admission to hospital with Pulmonary Oedema (PO), in August, my ability to breathe, especially at night, has been seriously compromised.

Though I didn’t know it at the time, I’ve been having bouts of PO for about 2 years – I just didn’t think it was anything more serious than yet another malign aspect of my COPD. After all, I’ve been coughing blood, from time to time, for over 40 years. PO, though, is just a tad more serious – it’s potentially fatal and it damn near did for me in August.

It’s also a symptom of heart failure, not COPD, and a serious one at that.

Given the length of time it’s been happening to me, PO has to be considered a chronic condition (even if dated only from August, it’s still chronic now),** and it recurs on average once a week.

** “Chronic” by the way, refers to the length of time a condition has been present (usually defined as over 3 months), not to seriousness, or pain, or anything else, as is often mistakenly supposed.

However, to complicate matters, there is a similar (from the patient’s perspective), condition, Paroxysmal Nocturnal Dyspnoea (PND), which has similar symptoms – severe breathlessness (that’s the dyspnoea bit), and violent coughing (the paroxysm). Like PO there is serious difficulty inhaling, and considerable sputum production. Unlike PO, the sputum is neither bloody nor frothy but, judging from the strain it clearly puts on my heart (this, too, can be a symptom of heart failure), while not officially as dangerous as PO, certainly feels as if it is. It can be relieved by sitting or standing (I sleep sitting up – have done for years – so it’s standing for me, which works though is hardly welcome at 03.30), and it responds, like PO, to megadosing with my inhalers so presumably it will respond to the same nebulised drugs as PO.

And this too, has been going on for some time, though months rather than a couple of years as with PO and, again, just put down to COPD.

So, folks, if you have COPD and you’re getting symptoms like these, don’t just assume that it’s your COPD getting worse – get it checked out, because you really don’t want PO, in particular, to reach crisis point. It can kill and – trust me on this, I came too close for comfort – it’s a very bad way to go.

And I hope you don’t have my experience and get saddled with a cardiologist who thinks that just because I have stage 3 COPD everything I presented with can be explained by that and I don’t need heart failure to do so. True enough, I don’t, nor do I want it, but having COPD does not preclude having heart failure as well. His assertion that doctors at APH confused a respiratory infection with Pulmonary Oedema and heart failure is as arrogant as it is wrong.

I have, since August, spent a huge amount of time online and I have put together a substantial body of documentation, all from extremely reputable sources, and all of which points to the cast-iron fact that, based not on opinion but purely on my symptoms, I do have both COPD and heart failure.

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2 thoughts on “Breathing would be nice…

  1. well i too have COPD and as you know one doc has said i’ve probably got heart failure too. though she did say a sign of heart failure is breathlessness with clear lungs. even though i’ve seen different GP’s /specialists over the past 23 yrs re the asthma i have, plus angina they thought i had (without any tests other than ECG which actually showed nothing much.)…PLUS the last 8 yrs for the COPD. even though when i’ve had chest infections ,invariably my lungs are clear but its been agreed i did have a chest infection so had to be in mi bronchial tubes. which is where it felt to be.only once about 8 yrs ago have I had signs on my lungs and i had bronchitis at the time. so yep, sounds to me like you can get both COPD and heart failure in same person at same time.
    .

    • It’s a fact that COPD can cause heart failure. I was told in 1996, at the time emphysema was first diagnosed, that I also had the early signs of Cor Pulmonale (right-side heart failure). If I had it then, I have it now – it doesn’t go away.

      I also have a progressive, age-related, heart condition – a calcified and stenotic aortic valve. Which can also cause left-side heart failure.

      According to the hospital, I have both left and right-side heart failure – that fits in with both COPD and the aortic valve problem. It also fits my symptoms. The only people who have a problem with that are this idiot cardiologist (the same guy who refused to accept I had COPD 18 years ago but who now says EVERYTHING is the fault of COPD!), and his nurse.

      Anyway, my Medic-Alert bracelet lists heart failure so if I’m hauled off to hospital again – and I don’t think that day is far away – the A&E team will heed that and at least check it out.

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