Over 2.5 million Canadians have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is a progressive lung condition that blocks the airways and makes it difficult to breathe. These patients experience worsening shortness of breath, increasing exercise limitation, and reduced quality of life. Patients must work harder to breathe, and the lungs can over-inflate, which can squeeze the heart and affect how it functions. Further, more than 1-in-4 patients also have high blood pressure, which might amplify the negative effects of lung over-inflation on the heart. This is important because cardiovascular issues contribute to exercise limitation and account for 25% of deaths in COPD.
This study will use non-invasive imaging and monitoring to measure heart function and blood pressure. First, to understand the direct effects of lung volume and blood pressure on the heart, we will study how lung over-inflation can affect heart function when blood pressure is normal or high in healthy adults by using temporary experimental increases in lung volume and blood pressure. Second, we will perform a similar study in patients with COPD, which will allow us to better understand why patients who have COPD are more affected by cardiovascular disease.