The topic today in Neighborhood Health Watch is COPD and congestive heart failure.
The late former first lady Barbara Bush had both of these diseases. She decided to focus on comfort care instead of seeking additional medical treatment. She died Tuesday, April 17, 2018.
Both diseases can cause shortness of breath when a person is doing something physical, like exercising, climbing stairs, or walking for a long distance. Congestive heart failure is when the heart muscles become weak and is not efficient at pumping blood through the body and to the body's organs.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is when you inhale and you are not able to exhale the breath you took in. COPD is a chronic inflammatory lung disease in which sufferers experience wheezing, chronic coughing, respiratory infections and shortness of breath.
Erin White is a Nurse Practitioner with Henrico Doctors’ Hospital says smoking is the primary cause of both of these diseases and you can lower your risk.
"Lower your risk by not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, getting screened or treating high blood pressure. Taking their medication as prescribed and following up with your doctors routinely. With COPD, you can have decreased oxygen to the body that can put more strain on the heart. With decreased oxygen to the heart, you can make the heart muscle weak, and with CHF - congestive heart failure - you can have fluid pushed back into the lungs and as fluid builds up in the lungs, it can become harder to breathe. Pressure from the lungs with COPD can put pressure on the heart as well."
The late former First Lady Barbara Bush had been a smoker since age 18. She quit in 1968 on New Year’s Day after a hospital nurse chastised her for smoking after a procedure.