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  • Trouble breathing - a heart problem?

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    Old 12-28-2007, 10:38 PM   #1
    Dark Stranger
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    Trouble breathing - a heart problem?

    Yes, I have a topic about this in another forum, and I apologize to the readers for the serial posting.

    I've been suffering shortness of breath for about six months now, and over that period of time, I have had things like asthma and blood clots in the lungs ruled out. Someone suggested the possibility of a heart problem, but I'm leaning more toward not having one for the following reasons:

    - I have no family history of heart problems.

    - I researched heart problems characterized by breathing difficulty and came up with CAD and heart failure. However, none of the causes of these conditions really apply to me - I'm not diabetic, do not have arrhythmia, my BP is a little higher than the normal range (123/80), oxygen levels are fine, never had a heart attack, and no doctor that ever listened to my heart ever said it sounded abnormal, fast, slow, etc. I don't recall the other causes, but none of them applied to me. I am also only 20, so I don't think old age is a factor either.

    - This is a biggie...since my problems began, they have gotten better, not worse. When they first began, I developed chest pain, chest tightness and on two occasions felt my heart pounding hard (but not fast). And the breathing problems got worse at night, to the point where I forced myself to remain awake until I couldn't stand it and my desire to sleep was greater than my fear of dying. It was the only way I could sleep. Now though, all I have is a fairly mild, yet constant feeling of shortness of breath that does not interfere with sleeping.

    - My breathing does not worsen with physical activity. I'm not a really active person, but I do occasionally take long walks or play DDR (which, if you don't know, is a game that involves lots of movement and is a great cardio workout). My breathing will not get worse when I walk or play DDR - wouldn't it worsen noticeably if it was a heart issue?

    I don't know anything about heart problems - maybe I do have one. But from what I have read, it does seem a bit unlikely. Especially my symptoms getting better over time by themselves and not worse.

    Does it sound like it could be a heart problem? My doctor is suggesting I have anxiety, but I don't know how plausible that is either. Has anyone ever had their symptoms disappear like this? Or have a heart problem with only loss of breath? I'm very confused about it all.

     
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    Old 01-02-2008, 08:32 AM   #2
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    Re: Trouble breathing - a heart problem?

    Hi, Shortness of breath may be due to a variety of things - two common ones being asthma and, depending on age, angina. The simple test for asthma is a puffer - which when applied should significantly improve your breathing. Asthma is also a major self-denial response for ppl that really have angina of some degree, yet like to believe otherwise.
    The easy test for shortness of breath due to angina is to jog (if possible) or walk very fast up a long steep hill. By long I mean 300 to 500 metres (yards).
    If you do that with no change in ease of breathing (or tightness in the chest and ache in the arms) you "probably" don't have serious angina. (Angina however is a variable condition and symptoms can be better or worse from day to day - so one test may not be conclusive.) Another test for angina is to get some nitrate spray and spray a couple of times under the tongue and then check your shortness of breath with exercise.
    Finally, I would be assessing weight, diet, cholesterol, and the amount of daily exercise you get. Smoking is a plus factor too.
    A "stress" test with your cardiologist is a very simple test if you prefer to do a more reliable and controlled check.
    Hope this helps, don't try to self diagnose until you get some test results.
    Cheers, Beefsteak.

     
    Old 01-02-2008, 09:39 PM   #3
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    Re: Trouble breathing - a heart problem?

    Beefsteak,

    Asthma has already been ruled out. I took a methacholine challenge and my breathing rate did not drop enough to signal asthma. Also, I have an albuterol inhaler that never helped improve my ability to breathe properly.

    I have always had issues with jogging - I can't even jog 1/5 of a mile without needing to slow down to catch my breath. This was before I ever had breathing problems, even when I was a healthy weight and slightly more physically capable of exercise. Now that I'm overweight again, I'd probably have a difficult time running anywhere even if I could breathe perfectly fine.

    Thanks you for the input, though. I will see what my doctor says and see if he feels I should see a heart specialist.

     
    Old 01-03-2008, 06:12 AM   #4
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    Re: Trouble breathing - a heart problem?

    Hi Dark Stranger, I realize of course that jogging is not everyone's cup of tea. Even fit people can find it tough. The converse is true enough too. A 70 y.o. friend of mine regularly jogged 10km, never experienced any sort of angina, yet still had several heart attacks and now has congestive heart failure. But he did have his first heart attack at 40.

    Still, for your own peace of mind why not get some nitrate spray, or nitrate tabs and pop one and see how you feel. That should dilate the cardiovascular arteries enough to provide an answer.

    I find food in my stomach also causes a poor exercise response. My body has enough blood to digest food or supply the muscles but not both. I allow 4 hours minimum before exercise.

    Good luck with it Sweet,
    Beefsteak.

     
    Old 01-04-2008, 06:12 PM   #5
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    Re: Trouble breathing - a heart problem?

    I have read all of your posts on this thread and some others and I want to tell you that I have all the exact same problems as you. My problem started in February 2007. It is exactly as you describe it, this constant feeling that I'm not getting enough air. I pretty much just force myself to yawn because that is the only way to get relief, and even that lasts for a few seconds.

    I was diagnosed with asthma. I took the same medications you took, but nothing helped. I took allergy medicines; those did not help. I was then told I have anxiety. I knew I didn't have anxiety, but I tried taking antianxiety medicine anyway, hoping it would help. It did not. I have seen three different doctors and none of them have a clue as to what this problem is. They seem to think it is in my head because they have never seen it before.

    I am not overweight. I exercise daily. My breathing problem does not get any worse when I exercise.

    I questioned whether this could be related to horomoes because the problem began a few weeks after I quit taking the birth control pill Ortho Cyclen. I went back on this pill months later hoping this would correct the problem. I noticed a slight improvement, but maybe I was being optomistic.

    If you find any information, please, please let me know! I am relieved to hear someone else has my same problem, but it is discouraging that no one has any answers.

     
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