ICU/Critical Care/COPD and heart attack


I have a questions that has been bothering me for many years since my mother passed.  She was only 50 years old and had COPD, but only the beginning stages of it. She was a smoker. The thing that has me puzzled is that she died of a heart attack while taking a breathing tratment at home.  This always seemed odd to me since I thought the breathing treatment would improve heart function.  I have searched on the internet several times to see if there are links between the two, and all I seem to find it that it helps, not hurts.  How is this possible.  Thank you for your time.

Dear Angela,

Chronic obstructive pulmonaey disease is due to lung damage commonly due to cigarette smoking and second hand smoke. It makes it very difficult to oxygenate the body because the oxygen exchange takes place in the alveoli. Alveoli are grape like structure located at the very top of the lungs. These grape like structure become filled with sputum or over inflated and are either no longer able to exchange gases or are at the end of the life span. Without the necessary oxygen, the heart tries to compensate by beating faster and harder. Eventually the heart gives out and can no longer function with the inadequate amount if oxygen.  The breathing treatment was inconsequential. It did not cause the heart attack. Due to the lung capacity and possibly family history, the heart attack was inevitable. Wishing you peace in your life.  

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Dr. Pamela M. Cipriano, DNP, ACNP-BC


My name is Dr. Cipriano. I am able to answer questions regarding critical care issues including the cardiac system, pulmonary system, gastrointestinal system, gallbladder, small bowel obstructions, crohn's disease, diverticulitis, general abdominal surgery, ventilator management, ARDS, dehydration, heart failure, kidney failure, shock. pneumona, surgical complications, disease process.


I am a Hospitalist at a local hospital and in the emergency department. I am on the Medical Staff. I round, admit, discharge, consult and assist with surgeries in the OR. I manage patients in the ICU and Med/Surg floors.

Society of Hospital Medicine American College of Nurse Practitioners Connecticut Advance Practice Nurse Society

Maryville University 2014-2016 Doctor of Nursing Practice University of Connecticut 2007-2011 MSN, Acute Care Track Nurse Practitioner. Board Certified September 2011 Central Connecticut State University 2002-2006 BA Psychology St. Mary's Hospital School of Nursing 1991-1993 Diploma Nursing Registered Nurse

Awards and Honors
Golden Key Honor Society; Merit Award Recipient; Scholarship Recipient

Past/Present Clients
Trained at Hartford Hospital, Hartford, CT - Open Heart Cardiac Intensive Care Post Anesthesia Care Unit & Radiology Internship Interned at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas Trained at St. Mary's Hospital, Waterbury, CT - emergency Department & Hospitalist Program

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