What drugs are used to treat cardiac problems and COPD?

5 answers | Last updated: Nov 29, 2016
Nursing student asked...

What drugs are used to treat cardiac problems and COPD?


Expert Answers

James Frank is Assistant Professor of Medicine and Director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit at the V.A. Medical Center in San Francisco.

There are too many different drugs used to treat these conditions to list here, but a common clinical concern is interactions between the medicines used to treat cardiac problems and COPD. For example, people with heart failure, high blood pressure, or coronary artery disease are often treated with beta-blockers, but patients with COPD are often treated with beta-agonists, drugs that actually stimulate the same receptor that's blocked by beta-blockers. So those medications can be at odds. Depending on the severity of either of the two diseases, the medications would have to either be avoided or used with caution. The most common scenario is that patients who have heart failure are treated with a beta-blocker, but there's some worry about that because they also have COPD. But as long as the COPD is mild and the patient has never needed to go to the emergency room or be hospitalized, they'd probably have more benefit from the beta-blocker than harm. At the other extreme, if somebody has severe COPD, you might consider not treating with beta-blockers. But most of the time, it's fine to use beta-blockers in patients with COPD.


Community Answers

Mustangsally91 answered...

Was this confusing to anyone but me? All I got out of this article was, one can either take a beta blocker or not, or one shouldn't take a beta blocker. "At the other extreme, if somebody has severe COPD, you might consider not treating with beta-blockers. But most of the time, it's fine to use beta-blockers in patients with COPD." So, which is it? And now for those who do have COPD and a heart condition, you're even more confused. Not very helpful with this answer. Sorry.


Kittyh answered...

Confusing, yes, but I think what he's saying is that it depends on the severity of the two diseases. My dad has both heart disease (lower left bundle block) and COPD/asbestosis. The heart problem isn't as severe as the COPD, so that's what his docs focus on. Occasionally, the COPD drugs, particularly theophylline, cause heart problems--racing heart, elevated blood pressure, etc. But treating the heart problems exacerbates the COPD. For good measure, the steroids he takes to assist in breathing are thinning his bones, so now he has osteoporosis, as well. The drugs are a balancing act, and I've found that even with good doctors, the right had doesn't always know what the left hand is doing. They pay attention to which drugs he's taking, but I think we should also have more notations from the doctors on WHY they've prescribed a particular med and what they hope to accomplish with it, so we can show that to the other docs. We also make sure to consult with the pharmacist regularly to make sure he's not being a) double-dosed or b) being prescribed drugs that will either counteract each other or have a synergistic effect. Yes, it is confusing and complicated, but the more information you have, the better. Sorry, I know that's not much of an answer....


Lizouttavegas answered...

I think this answer was just something else to worry about. that there are no answers to! Am I, my husbands "caretaker" supposed to determine which of his problems are more severe? heart or copd? and how? he's had copd for 10 or more yrs, just developed heart problems a year or so ago. his Dr, like most of them, has never even mentioned this!!!! and which meds for copd are the least dangerous, with beta blockers? names please! I need much more before I make such an important decision.! and he has a defibrilator, so does that change the equasion?


Lizouttavegas answered...

thanks for the clarification, and Im now going to discuss this with his Heart DR. and his Prim.CareDR, and the pharamacist!