Pathophysiologic Process of Cardiovascular Diseases

Pathophysiologic Process of Cardiovascular Diseases

Understanding the pathophysiologic process of diseases is a critical component of being a nursing practitioner. It provides a better understanding of why symptoms occur in a certain manner, consequently providing a better understanding of how diseases progress. This constitutes a critical part of initiating early and effective treatment options to provide quality, safe and appropriate care.

This paper aims to describe the pathophysiologic process behind cough and shortness of breath in a patient with COPD, highlighting any racial/ ethical factors that may be coming into play and understanding the interrelationship between these disease processes resulting in the outcome observed.

Pathophysiologic Processes

The link between COPD and cardiovascular pathophysiologic processes primarily depends on hyperinflation and hypoxemia, among other processes. Hyperinflation is mostly a result of an increase in the residual gas in the alveoli after the process of breathing out. This hyperinflation can either be static or dynamic. Static entails the destruction of the lung parenchyma resulting in loss of the elastic recoil of the lung.

The dynamic phase occurs on inhalation before full exhalation, consequently resulting in the retention of air molecules. This whole process greatly disrupts the muscles involved in respiration resulting in the shortness of breath observed (McCance & Huether, 2019). Limitation in the airflow due to hyperinflation has been attributed to elevated pressures, right ventricular dysfunction, impaired left-ventricular filling, and impaired cardiac output.

COPD results in excess mucus production by the lungs. The consequent impairment in the mucus clearing mechanisms, in conjunction with the impairment of the ciliary structure, leads to the cough as a mechanism of clearing out the excess mucus (Radovanovic et al., 2018).

The green sputum is due to an acute bacterial infection, most likely pneumonia. Elevated levels of myeloperoxidase enzyme during acute infections are the main cause of the green color in the sputum. The fever is mostly a result of the upward surge of the set point of the thermoregulatory center as a result of cytokines (Santos et al., 2019). This is particularly common in infections and is believed to boost the functioning of the immune system while hindering the proliferation of the pathogen.

Cardiovascular and Cardiopulmonary Interaction

It is a common occurrence to experience cardiovascular complications and COPD coexisting. As highlighted earlier, the critical pathophysiological links between these two systems are lung hyperinflation, systemic inflammation, and exacerbations associated with COPD.

This cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary interaction dramatically increases the mortality rates and significantly affects the overall quality of life due to prolonged episodes of shortness of breath and exercise intolerance (Cheyne et al., 2020). Prolonged and frequent hospitalization as a result of COPD exacerbations greatly reduces the patient’s productivity and increases the overall cost of healthcare.

Racial/Ethical Variables

Race is a crucial determinant in occupation types since most occupations are racially patterned (Wolf et al., 2020). Jobs where there is exposure to smoke, dust, and other hazardous chemicals, in most instances, tend to be reserved for certain racial groups. These factors greatly influence the disease process, consequently playing a major role in the overall health of the individuals.

Racially determined factors such as poverty and level of education determine an individual’s lifestyle, including physical exercise and diet. These are key in the overall physiologic functioning of an individual. These factors also influence health-seeking behaviors, which also affect normal physiologic functioning.


The cardiopulmonary and cardiovascular systems are greatly affected by conditions affecting either of these systems, with symptoms manifesting in relation to the pathophysiologic processes involved. Understanding these processes is key to offering quality care to patients. Factors such as race and ethnicity should be taken into consideration as they greatly impact the normal physiologic functioning of the body and, consequently, the disease process.


Cheyne, W. S., Harper, M. I., Gelinas, J. C., Sasso, J. P., & Eves, N. D. (2020). Mechanical cardiopulmonary interactions during exercise in health and disease. Journal of Applied Physiology (Bethesda, Md.: 1985), 128(5), 1271–1279.

McCance, K. L. & Huether, S. E. (2019). Pathophysiology: The biologic basis for disease in adults and children (8th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby/Elsevier.

Radovanovic, D., Pecchiari, M., Pirracchio, F., Zilianti, C., D’Angelo, E., & Santus, P. (2018). Plethysmographic Loops: A Window on the Lung Pathophysiology of COPD Patients. Frontiers in Physiology, 9, 484.

Santos, C., Oliveira, R. C., Serra, P., Baptista, J. P., Sousa, E., Casanova, P., Pimentel, J., & Carvalho, L. (2019). Pathophysiology of acute fibrinous and organizing pneumonia – Clinical and morphological spectra. Pathophysiology: The Official Journal of the International Society for Pathophysiology, 26(3-4), 213–217.

Wolf, S. T., Jablonski, N. G., & Kenney, W. L. (2020). Examining “race” in physiology. American journal of physiology. Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 319(6), H1409–H1413.

Pathophysiologic Process of Cardiovascular Diseases Instructions

  Please be mindful of plagiarism and APA format, I have included the rubric. Please use my course resources as one of my references as instructed. Please include McCance, K. L. & Huether, S. E. (2019). Pathophysiology: The biologic basis for disease in adults and children (8th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby/Elsevier in the references.

Learning Resources
Required Readings (click to expand/reduce)

McCance, K. L. & Huether, S. E. (2019). Pathophysiology: The biologic basis for disease in adults and children (8th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby/Elsevier.

Chapter 32: Structure and Function of the Cardiovascular and Lymphatic Systems; Summary Review
Chapter 33: Alterations of Cardiovascular Function (stop at Dysrhythmias); Summary Review
Chapter 35: Structure and Function of the Pulmonary System; Summary Review
Chapter 36: Alterations of Pulmonary Function (stop at Disorders of the chest wall and pleura); (obstructive pulmonary diseases) (stop at Pulmonary artery hypertension); Summary Review
Note: The above chapters were first presented in the Week 3 resources. If you read them previously you are encouraged to review them this week.

Inamdar, A. A. & Inamdar, A. C. (2016). Heart failure: Diagnosis, management, and utilization, 5(7). doi:10.3390/jcm5070062

Note: The above article was first presented in the Week 3 resources. If you read it previously you are encouraged to review it this week.

Required Media (click to expand/reduce)

Alterations in the Cardiovascular and Respiratory Systems - Week 4 (15m)

Accessible player 
MedCram. (2015, September 14). Pneumonia explained clearly by MedCram [Video file]. Retrieved from

Note: The approximate length of the media program is 13 minutes.

(Previously reviewed in Week 3)

Online Media from Pathophysiology: The Biologic Basis for Disease in Adults and Children
In addition to this week\'s media, it is highly recommended that you access and view the resources included with the course text, Pathophysiology: The Biologic Basis for Disease in Adults and Children. Focus on the videos and animations in Chapters 32, 33, 35, and 36 that relate to cardiorespiratory systems and alteration in cardiorespiratory systems. Refer to the Learning Resources in Week 1 for registration instructions. If you have already registered, you may access the resources at

Case Study Analysis
An understanding of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems is a critically important component of disease diagnosis and treatment. This importance is magnified by the fact that these two systems work so closely together. A variety of factors and circumstances that impact the emergence and severity of issues in one system can have a role in the performance of the other.

Effective disease analysis often requires an understanding that goes beyond these systems and their capacity to work together. The impact of patient characteristics, as well as racial and ethnic variables, can also have an important impact.

Photo Credit: yodiyim / Adobe Stock

An understanding of the symptoms of alterations in cardiovascular and respiratory systems is a critical step in diagnosis and treatment of many diseases. For APRNs this understanding can also help educate patients and guide them through their treatment plans.

In this Assignment, you examine a case study and analyze the symptoms presented. You identify the elements that may be factors in the diagnosis, and you explain the implications to patient health.

Scenario 4: 45-year-old woman presents with chief complaint of 3-day duration of shortness of breath, cough with thick green sputum production, and fevers. Patient has history of COPD with chronic cough but states the cough has gotten much worse and is interfering with her sleep. Sputum is thicker and harder for her to expectorate. CXR reveals flattened diaphragm and increased AP diameter. Auscultation demonstrates hyper resonance and coarse rales and rhonchi throughout all lung fields. 

To prepare:

Assignment (1- to 2-page case study analysis)
In your Case Study Analysis related to the scenario provided, explain the following
1. The cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary pathophysiologic processes that result in the patient presenting these symptoms.
2. Any racial/ethnic variables that may impact physiological functioning.
3. How these processes interact to affect the patient.