The heart and lungs have a close relationship, meaning conditions that affect the one usually affect the other. Cardiopulmonary diseases are conditions that affect both the heart and lungs. Left untreated these conditions can cause serious complications, lead to medical emergencies and cause heart and lung failure. Early identification and treatment of cardiopulmonary disease are crucial for reversing organ damage and preventing further injury.
The most common cardiopulmonary diseases are left ventricular failure, chronic lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), obstructive sleep apnoea and pulmonary thromboembolic disease causing right heart failure. Symptoms of cardiopulmonary diseases may include:
- shortness of breath
- effort intolerance
- bluish colour of the skin in the extremities
- sharp chest pain
- abdominal or leg swelling
Diagnosis & Treatment
In order to make a diagnosis, Dr Ho may do a physical exam followed by a range of diagnostic tests. These tests may include an echocardiogram or diagnostic cardiac ultrasound, which is an ultrasound of the heart to give a better image of the structure of the heart, including the chambers and valves. An electrocardiogram (ECG) or exercise stress test can also be used to evaluate the electrical activity generated by the heart when it is at rest and when exercising. A portable electrocardiogram (ECG) machine may also be used to monitor the heartbeat continuously over a period of time; this is called a Holter monitor.
Because cardiopulmonary diseases affects both the heart and lungs, Dr Ho may work together with a specialist physician/pulmonologist and cardiothoracic surgeon to treat you. Treatment of cardiopulmonary diseases may include changes in lifestyle, heart and lung medications and treatment.
Treatment of cardiopulmonary disease often requires a multidisciplinary team in which Dr Ho plays a key role together with other specialists to decide the treatment or combination of treatments that will best meet each patient's needs.