With cor pulmonale, cor is Latin for heart and pulmonale is Latin for lungs.
Cor pulmonale, then, is a relationship between the two, it’s when a disorder of the lungs causes dysfunction of the heart.
Normally, de-oxygenated venous blood from the body goes into the right atrium of the heart.
From there, it goes into the right ventricle and gets pumped into the lungs where it is reoxygenated as it goes through the pulmonary circulation.
The pulmonary circulation is a low-resistance system with pressures ranging between 10 mmHg and 14 mmHg.
After going through the lungs, oxygenated blood goes into the left atrium, and then into the left ventricle, and finally gets pumped back out to the body.
When the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s demands, it’s initially called heart dysfunction and can worsen to the point where it’s called heart failure.
This can happen in two ways, either it’s systolic heart failure, where the ventricles can’t pump blood hard enough during systole, or diastolic heart failure, where not enough blood fills the ventricles during diastole, called diastolic heart failure.
Heart failure can affect the right ventricle, the left ventricle, or both ventricles, so someone might have, right-sided heart failure, left-sided heart failure, or both which is called biventricular heart failure.
Cor pulmonale is when a lung disorder causes right-sided heart dysfunction that can develop into right-sided heart failure.