I have many health issues; should I be seeing a cardiologist as well?

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 14, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Am 77, a widow, CHF due to chemo after mastectomy in Feb 2002, triple bypass Sep 2002, but never had a heart attack. Have Diabetes, on 2000 mg Metformin twice daily as well as 40 units insulin (Novolin 70/30) twice daily. Am about 60# overweight. Recently learned I have pulmonary hypertension. Have sleep apnea, use C-Pap machine at night. Pulmonary specialist plans to put me on daytime oxygen. Should I also be seein my cardiologist? What is my prognosis for the future?

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Pulmonary hypertension occurs when the blood pressure becomes high in the lung arteries and right side of your heart, which causes damage to those organs over time. Common causes of secondary pulmonary hypertension: 1) Lung diseases, like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases) 2) Blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary emboli) 3) Autoimmune disorders, like scleroderma & AIDS 4) Sleep apnea 5) Heart disease and CHF 6) Liver disease

While shortness of breath is one of the first symptoms of pulmonary hypertension, other symptoms can occur. These include: fatigue, dizziness, fainting spells, chest pain, palpitations, and swelling of the legs.

Regarding your letter, you have several diseases that could have caused your pulmonary hypertension, including heart disease and sleep apnea. It helps that you are seeing a pulmonologist, and it wouldn't be a bad idea to follow up with your cardiologist too. Regarding your prognosis, currently there is no cure for this disease, but treatments are available that can help reduce symptoms. You would need to ask your pulmonologist more details about your specific case. What I do know is that for the best management of the disease, you need to follow your doctor's advice and take your medications as ordered. You also need to wear your CPAP every night, and make sure your heart disease and CHF are well controlled. Good luck!

Community Answers

Lvkdra answered...

Hello, I also use a CPAP @ night & it is O2 assisted at 2.0 we live at 9000'elev. With Sleep Apnea I often don't breathe when sleeping, so the oxygen boost helps. 197#'s 5'5", 60#'s OVWT too. I saw a cardiologist 12-03-09, 12-02-10. I do not have the pulmonary problems that U do, but they did a scan for that to be sure because I am often out of breath too. I must lose the weight. I am somewhat insulin resistant, if I dont shape up I will be following your scenario. I have looked up a lot of internet helps to lose weight, there are many, and most are moneymaking scams, but U can find the ones that are real helps usually connected with hospital programs or they are educationally driven. I hope to lose this weight by next year. Mostly, by changing what I eat and do for exercise. Lifting weights seems to be something of value as it helps us to make muscle rather than lose muscle as we lose the weight. Eating good quality protein more so than cutting carbs also seems to help. But do be sure to cut out all of what they call bad carbs, white flour and sugars, no pastries no donuts, no cookies, no sodas, etc. Sorry-that sounds so bleak, but it will get you to a more healthy weight, although it will take time. There is a person in CO who is in her 80's who climbs 14,000' peaks. She started in her 60's, pretty darn healthy now...don't despair, we can get there too. I had Ovarian Cancer in 2007...I took 6 cycles of chemotherapy, so far that seems okay with each checkup that I had since. Do whatever U can to get moving, perhaps being on the O2 will help U to do that.