What is cor pulmonale?

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Cor pulmonale is an ailment which develops from the issues due to high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries. It is also called as right-sided heart failure since it occurs inside the right ventricle.

The condition causes the right ventricle to enlarge and pump blood insufficiently than normal. As a result, the ventricle is driven to its limit and eventually falters.

The condition can be prevented if the high pressure of blood moving into the lungs is controlled. Nevertheless, if left untreated, pulmonary hypertension can result to cor pulmonale together with other associated, life-threatening complications.


The indications of cor pulmonale might not be evident initially since they are the same to the feeling of after a workout such as:

  • Tiredness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness
    The indications of cor pulmonale might not be evident initially since they are the same to the feeling of after a workout such as shortness of breath.
  • Rapid heart rate

Over time, the symptoms can deteriorate and flare-up even while at rest. A doctor should be informed right away if any of these symptoms are present:

  • Chest pain
  • Fainting
  • Swollen feet or leg
  • Wheezing
  • Excessive coughing
  • Excessive fatigue

What are the causes?

The lungs depend on the heart to transport blood from the body to the lungs. It is important to note that pulmonary hypertension is a form of increased pressure in the arteries of the lungs and the right ventricle of the heart.

It is the result of the need to overcome the high pressure within the lungs to pump blood into them. The increased pressure causes an insufficient transportation of blood to the lungs. If left untreated, pulmonary hypertension is the usual cause of cor pulmonale.

Other conditions that can cause cor pulmonale include:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Blood clots in the lungs
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Lung tissue damage
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


The doctor will treat the main cause of pulmonary hypertension to be able to deal with cor pulmonale.

Prescription medications are given to reduce the blood pressure and promote the flow of oxygen back into the lungs. Diuretics might also be given to eliminate fluid retention and keep the levels of blood sodium down. In addition, blood thinners are also given to prevent blood clots.

In significant or advanced cases of cor pulmonale, it requires more aggressive measures such as a lung or heart transplant. In some cases, oxygen therapy might be required.

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on cor pulmonale is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the indications of this respiratory ailment, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Mississauga, Kelowna, Surrey, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

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