February Heart Month

How the heart and lungs work together

With each beat of your heart, the heart sends blood through carrying oxygen to every cell. After delivering the oxygen, the blood returns to the heart. The heart then sends the blood to the lungs to pick up more oxygen.  The pulmonary loop, or the right side of the heart, is tasked with collecting the oxygen-poor blood and moving it to the lungs for cleaning and reoxygenating. Once reoxygenated, the systemic loop, or the left side of the heart, pumps the high-oxygen blood to the rest of your organs; like the kidneys, liver and brain. Once all the oxygen in your blood has been consumed, the process repeats. With each inhale, your lungs fill with fresh oxygen and each exhale releases carbon dioxide – ensuring the blood your heart pumps meets the need of your body.[1] The two systems work together so seamlessly that it takes about 16 seconds for blood to travel through the body, allowing about five quarts of blood to circulate per minute. 

Does a bad heart affect the lungs?

When the heart is not able to pump efficiently, blood can back up into the veins that take blood through the lungs. As the pressure in these blood vessels increases, fluid is pushed into the air spaces (alveoli) in the lungs. This fluid reduces normal oxygen movement through the lungs, which causes shortness of breath.  Patients with congestive heart failure are often associated with pulmonary congestion, reduced lung function, poor gas exchange and shortness of breath.


Do bad lungs affect the heart?

Patient with the most common lung diseases is more likely to develop cardiovascular disease such as congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, pulmonary hypertension, ischemic heart disease and peripheral vascular disease.[2]


How to keep your heart and lungs healthy

Keeping your lungs and heart healthy requires a healthy diet that includes a diet rich with vegetables, fruits, clean meats (organic/grass fed/free range), wild caught fish and minimal processed foods.

Staying active and getting at least 10,000 steps a day.

Quit smoking and stay away from any secondhand smoke.

Make sure to drink alcohol in moderation.

Stay hydrated and drink water.

Make sure to see your primary care regularly for routine blood work and check ups to monitor your health.


[1] https://www.lung.org/blog/heart-lung-relationship

[2] https://www.ajmc.com/view/common-lung-diseases-associated-with-cardiovascular-risk

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