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Cor Pulmonale


Cor pulmonale is a condition that occurs when the right side of your heart cannot pump properly.



  • Diuretics: These are given to decrease edema (excess fluid) that collects in a part of your body, such as your legs. Diuretics can also remove excess fluid from around your heart or lungs and decrease your blood pressure. It is often called water pills. You will urinate more often when you take this medicine.
  • Heart medicine: This medicine is given to strengthen or regulate your heartbeat. It also may help your heart in other ways. Talk with your healthcare provider to find out what your heart medicine is and why you are taking it.
  • Vasodilators: Vasodilators may improve your blood flow by making the blood vessels in your heart and lungs wider. This may decrease the pressure in your blood vessels and improve your symptoms.
  • Blood thinners: These help prevent clots from forming in the blood. Blood thinners make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise. Use an electric razor and soft toothbrush to help prevent bleeding.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider or cardiologist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Manage your breathing:

  • Breathing support: You may need oxygen along with other devices, such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), to help you breathe easier.
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation: This may help improve your symptoms and prevent your cor pulmonale from getting worse. You may learn breathing exercises to increase the oxygen levels in your body and improve the function of your heart.
  • Do pursed-lip breathing: Use this breathing technique when you feel short of breath. It may be especially helpful before you start an activity.
    • Inhale (breathe in) through your nose. Be sure you are using the muscles in your abdomen to help fill your lungs with air.
    • Slowly exhale (breathe out) through your mouth with your lips pursed (slightly puckered). You should make a quiet hissing sound as you breathe out through your pursed lips.
    • It should take you twice as long to breathe out as it did to breathe in. Count to 4 slowly as you breathe out.
    • Repeat this exercise several times.
      Breathe in Breathe out


  • Limit your liquids as directed: Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid you should drink each day. Too much liquid can increase your risk for swelling and make your cor pulmonale worse.
  • Eat healthy foods: You may need to change what you eat to control your symptoms. Foods low in salt are best. Healthy foods include fruit, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meat, and fish.
  • Exercise: Talk to your healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you. This may help you lose weight, which will decrease stress on your heart.
  • Prevent pregnancy: During pregnancy, your heart needs to work harder than usual. Pregnancy may be life-threatening to both you and your baby. Talk with your healthcare provider about safe ways to prevent pregnancy.
  • Do not drink alcohol: You may need to avoid alcohol. Too much alcohol can make it harder for you to breathe and worsen your cor pulmonale. Talk with your healthcare provider if you drink alcohol and need help to stop.
  • Do not smoke: If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Tobacco smoke can make your heart and lung symptoms worse. It can also cause heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and other health problems. If you smoke, ask for information about how to stop.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You are more tired than usual.
  • You are urinating much less than what is normal for you.
  • You feel dizzy, lightheaded, or confused.
  • You have new or increased swelling in your abdomen, legs, or feet.
  • You are more short of breath or wake from sleep gasping for air.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You cough up blood.
  • You have chest pain that does not go away with rest.
  • You have severe shortness of breath.
  • Your hands or feet suddenly feel cold to the touch.
  • Your heart is beating faster than normal for you.
  • You faint.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.