COPD is a progressive disease, but it can be controlled.
I. Chronic bronchitis usually does not cause much damage to the lungs but their is obstruction to the airways because of swelling of bronchial wall and mucus plugs. If not controlled on time it can lead tocomplications like :
- Cor Pulmonale
II. In Emphysema, much of lung damage occurs even before it can be detected and patient has a constant ‘air hunger’.
Because of poor ventilation in both the conditions there is decreased oxygen level (hypoxia) and increased carbon dioxide level(hypercapnia). This can lead to life threatening conditions. Therefore, the body boosts up to compensate for poor ventilation.
In order to give efficient oxygen delivery:
- The rate of breathing is increased
- More RBC’s (red blood cells) are produced to increase the blood’s oxygen carrying capacity
- Heart rate increases to pump more blood
- Blood vessels in the lungs constrict to force the blood and oxygen in the circulatory system
All this results in an abnormally high blood pressure in the lungs(Pulmonary hypertension) and this further progresses to Cor Pulmonale (because of increased work load the right ventricle or chamber of heart enlarges). If the condition is not checked it may progress to respiratory and heart failure.