What's the Connection? Your Heart Can Affect Your Breathing

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This information has been reviewed and approved by Andrew  Freeman, MD, FACC, FACP (January 2016).

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Summary: What's the Connection? Your Heart Can Affect Your Breathing

The heart and lungs work together to make sure the body has the oxygen-rich blood it needs to function properly.

  1. The Pulmonary Loop The right side of the heart picks up the oxygen-poor blood from the body and moves it to the lungs for cleaning and re-oxygenating.
  2. The Systemic Loop Once the blood is re-oxygenated, the left side of the heart moves the blood throughout the body so that every part receives the oxygen it needs.

The close connection between the heart and lungs means that breathing problems can be caused by issues in either the heart or lungs, or both.

Pay attention to breathing and heart functions. Remember that both the heart and lung can be sources of breathing problems. See the doctor when something does not seem right.


Symptoms Of A Heart/Lung Condition Can Include:

  • unexplained shortness of breath
  • low oxygen levels
  • chest pain
  • near-fainting/fainting
  • fatigue
  • palpitations
  • heart failure


Common Problems Related To The Heart/Lung Connection Are:

  • exercise intolerance
  • fatigue
  • irregular heartbeats
  • sleep apnea
  • asthma
  • bronchitis
  • weak heart muscle
  • shortness of breath
  • emphysema
  • pulmonary hypertension
  • heart attack


Interesting Facts

  • 100,000 heart beats a day
  • 1,500 miles of airways
  • 5 quarts of blood pumped per minute
  • 16 seconds for blood to travel from the heart to the toes and back
  • 15 to 25 breaths per minute



More Information on National Jewish Health


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