British Lung Foundation
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COPD and heartattack (heart didn't stop)

My mum has COPD - heart failure and recently had a heart attack (the heart didn't actually stop). She has 15 minutes of oxygen twice a day. The heart attack was about 2 weeks or so ago. She is currently at home and is very depressed. Just walking to the toilet makes her breathless. She has spent a total of about 12 weeks in hospital recently.

What should she be doing, and what should she not be doing to help herself. She is so frustrated about the lack of improvement she needs some inspiration and hope... She has chest pains at night and I wonder if she should be having oxygen at night? She is trying to eat better and I've told her no salt but she is quite under weight. She is getting portable oxygen this week. Could she go out with this in her wheelchair? Advice needed..

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7 Replies

So sorry to hear about your Mum.

I think your Mum needs to be guided by her doctor at this time regarding activity levels, she might want to ask about pulmonary rehabilitation, her doctor can refer her (you may be able to attend with her for support). Often the waiting list to attend a PR course can be as long as 6 months. This may well be the best way forward, in the meantime she could ask her doc what sort of activity levels she should be aiming for.

Often after an operation or heart attack the hospital will give patients an information leaflet on coping during the recovery period. Perhaps your Mum was given one of these that you could read. There is information on-line (NHS Choices page link below) which will give you an idea keeping in mind your Mum is both a lung and heart patient.

Link to NHS Choices - Heart attack recovery:

Link to BLF Page - COPD, pulmonary rehabilitation:

Wishing your Mum well through her recovery period and don't hesitate to speak with her doctor about any concerns she or you may have.

All good wishes

Auntymary xx

thank you for your reply much appreciated. She hasn't heard from her doctor since coming out of hospital but I think I might phone the surgery. She has been told about cardiac rehabilitation and I think the two (PR and CR) cross over. She's been told 6-8 weeks before this can start. Given that she had the heart attack (i just called to find out) about 3-4 weeks ago, another 6-8 weeks seems so long away for her and at the moment she spends the whole day just lying / sitting down, apart from going to the toilet and when she has her oxygen. She feels quite hopeless, she needs someone to give her hope about what the future might hold if she is patient and follows the recovery process ( a professional). Not a complete recovery she knows that won't happen, just the ability to go out instead of staring at 4 walls.

It's a good idea to make an appointment for your Mum to see the doctor and attend with her for support and an extra pair of ears. Whilst at the docs ask about accessing the community matron, who can come a visit your Mum at home and advise further on what help she can access at this time.

Great to hear you have investigated the rehabilitation courses already. I would put her name down for one or both, as those 6-8 weeks will soon come round. PR is hope, after attending the course, your Mum will be much more hopeful about her future. It will get her out and making new friends. Later when she is up to it check out the local breathe easy group where she can meet up with others with copd and in addition there may well be a cardiac recovery group that meets too. Both the BLF and BHF helpline can advise on what is available in your area.

I attend an ongoing following up rehabilitation exercise class, with both cardiac and lung patients, some lung patients do use oxygen, the possibilities are there even though sometimes it is hard to believe, slowly but surely it can be done. Its important to remember also that the rehabilitation is not just about exercise, it helps us manage our illness much better, we learn how to avoid further problems and about foods that are particularly helpful to our health, lungs, heart, etc.

Things will improve in time, and your Mum can look forward to a much brighter future.

All good wishes to you and your Mum.

Auntymary xx

Thanks for your advice and reply. Much appreciated.

Rehab is the way to go only cardiac is the major issue here no indication of respiratory distress beyond breathless so good advice you have but look at cardio

The COPD was the cause of the heart failure and she has been extremely breathless at times in the run up to the attack. There is also talk of Pulmonary hypertension. At the moment breathing isn't too much of a problem. She just can't do anything and can only just about make it to the toilet.

she is only 69.

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