Breathlessness

Causes of Breathlessness

Shortness of breath, or dyspnoea, can be very debilitating. There are, of course, many causes of breathlessness and the treatment of these symptoms requires careful investigation and management.

Causes of Shortness of Breath

There are many causes of shortness of breath, ranging from physical deconditioning and the presence of obesity, to more significant causes such as coronary artery disease, heart failure, lung disease or anaemia. Any reason that can impair blood delivering oxygen to the body’s tissues can cause breathlessness. If the problem is in the heart and it can’t deliver enough blood to the body, the condition is known as Heart Failure (HF), Congestive Cardiac Failure (CCF) or Left Ventricular Failure.

Chest x-ray and echocardiography help diagnose the cause of breathlessness.

Breathlessness Examination

You will be asked about possible causes for breathlessness, including smoking and asthma. You will be examined and then will need tests, including blood tests to rule out anaemia, an ECG  and an Echocardiogram to exclude heart problems; also  lung function tests to assess your respiratory function may be useful. You may need a chest X-ray. Most of these tests will be possible on the day of your consultation, so a management plan can be made to help you.

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