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Emphysema & Heart Problems

Posted by Dee Dee on April 28, 1999 at 14:30:23
My 86 year old father was just diagnosed with Emphysema and put on Oxygen.  Prior to this recent discovery, he was functioning normally but occasionally talked about being out-of-breath.  His doctor x-rayed his heart & lungs -- but found no problems.  He recently went to another doctor who said his blood oxygen level was low and he should go on oxygen to build it up.   We thought this would take care of his occasional breathlessness.   In the two weeks he's been on oxygen he's gone down hill terribly.  The oxygen doesn't seen to help much (although the doctor said is oxygen levels are up -- but now he's barely able to walk from one end of the room to the next.  He's aged dramatically over the past few weeks and we can't understand why?  His recent EKG was normal and today he is having a stress test to see if something else is going on besides the emphysema.
Do any of these symptoms ring a bell?   Why such a drastic deterioration in his health in a few short weeks?  One thing the doctor mentioned when testing his heart is that it WAS NOT beating faster with exercise or movement....and I understand a normal heart should beat faster with exercise.  What does this tell you?  

Posted by CCF CARDIO MD - DLB on April 29, 1999 at 18:25:54
Dear Dee Dee
Most likely, he is 86 years old with end-stage lung disease and his deterioration is just the natural course of things. Another possibility that should be investigated is whether his carbon dioxide levels have increased now that he is on oxygen therapy. High carbon dioxide levels can make someone feel awful.
The lack of heart rate increase with exercise is abnormal. If his heart rate is very low, that can cause fatigue and a pacemaker may be helpful.
I hope this has been useful. I wish you the best of luck. Feel free to write back.
Information provided here is for general purposes only. Specific questions should be addressed to your own doctor. If you would like to make an appointment at the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center, please call 1-800-CCF-CARE or inquire online by using the Heart Center website at www.ccf.org/heartcenter. The Heart Center website contains a directory of the cardiology staff that can be used to select the physician best suited to address your cardiac problem.

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