Most of us do not think about the crucial role that our lungs play in keeping us healthy, as breathing is second nature to us. It is only when we have respiratory issues that we realize the importance of lung health. Breathing is essential to provide oxygen to all the cells in our bodies. When our cells do not get enough oxygen, we experience health issues such as respiratory diseases and heart problems. Read on to know more about how lung health can affect our heart.
You probably know that the lungs and the heart work together to provide oxygenated blood to all the cells in your body. The right side of the heart takes deoxygenated blood from all parts of the body into the lungs for re-oxygenating it. The left side of the heart circulates the re-oxygenated blood to all the body parts to provide every cell with oxygen. Thus, lung health and heart health affect each other as the functioning of the lungs and heart are interrelated.
How Does Poor Lung Function Cause Heart Problems?
The relation between the lungs and the heart means that respiratory problems can be caused by issues with the lungs, heart, or both. Poor lung function means that the body’s cells do not get enough oxygen. This makes the heart pump harder when you are active to supply enough oxygen-rich blood to the body.
Low oxygen in the blood causes the heart muscles to strain harder, which can cause heart failure. Thus, respiratory disorders affect the heart’s capacity to pump blood. Studies have found that the risk of getting heart problems increases as lung health decreases.
What are the Factors that Affect Lung Health?
Lung health can be affected by several factors such as:
- Smoking: Smoking significantly reduces lung capacity. It also causes tar deposits in the lungs.
- Pollution: Being constantly exposed to indoor and outdoor air pollution can also affect lung health adversely.
- Lack of Physical Activity: When we are at rest, our lungs are only at 50% capacity. Lungs work at full capacity only when we are active.
- Chronic Respiratory Problems: Problems such as asthma, bronchitis, sleep apnea, emphysema, and even lung cancer can cause low oxygen levels in the blood, which puts pressure on the heart, increasing the risk of heart failure.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder: COPD is a significant contributor to cardiac failure. As the airway is obstructed, the oxygen levels in the blood become lower, causing the heart to pump faster. This can cause high blood pressure and heart attacks.
- Other Diseases: Diseases such as Asbestosis, Sarcoidosis, and Scleroderma can affect respiratory function and that can also affect cardiac health.
The best method to avoid heart and lung problems is prevention. There are several steps you can take to improve your lung health and avoid heart problems:
- Deep-Breathing Exercises: Deep-breathing exercises like pranayama (a type of yoga) and diaphragmatic breathing can help improve lung capacity.
- Avoid Smoking: Smoking severely damages the lungs. It blackens your lungs with chemical deposits and puts pressure on the heart to work harder. It can cause various respiratory and cardiac diseases. Hence, avoiding smoking is the best thing you can do for your lungs.
- Avoid Exposure to Pollution: Avoiding prolonged exposure to air pollution also helps the lungs stay healthy. Wear a mask if you are commuting through traffic or avoid peak hours and find an alternate route to work.
- Be Physically Active: Exercise and physical activity challenge the lungs and improve their performance and capacity. Walking, swimming, running, and aerobics are good for your lung health.
- Drink Plenty of Water: Staying hydrated is also essential for the well-being of your lungs.
- Eat Healthy: Eating healthy, nutritious food also keeps your lungs and the rest of your body healthy.
- Remain Stress-Free: When you are stressed, your heart beats much faster and makes the lungs work harder to produce more oxygen. Being relaxed is good for your heart and lung health.
Signs and Symptoms of Lung problems that can Also Affect Your Heart:
You may be suffering from lung or heart problems if you experience any of the following signs and symptoms:
- Tightness in the chest
- Being short of breath even during mildly active tasks
- Coughing and wheezing when you exercise
- Pain when you breathe or in your airway
- Feeling dizzy when you get up or change your activity
- A cough that won’t go away
Diagnosis and Treatment:
If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should get yourself checked by your physician right away. Your doctor may recommend diagnostic tests to determine your lung function and health. Problems with lung or pulmonary function are diagnosed using pulmonary function tests like chest X-ray, spirometry and Lung diffusion Capacity. You can book an appointment now for tests like these at Medlife Labs. Alternatively, you can call on 7022000900 to schedule a free home sample collection.
These tests measure things like tidal volume, vital capacity, minute volume, total lung capacity, and so much more.
Once the tests results are in, your doctor can guide you with treatment options that will help improve your lung health. Treatment options can be oral or inhalable medicines to manage conditions like asthma or bronchitis or prescription medication for more severe conditions like COPD. The key to good lung and heart health is a nutritious diet, regular exercise, avoiding smoking, and getting tested annually or biannually.
Also Read: All About Pollution and Lung Health