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  • Cardiovascular Group and Northside Hospital are pleased to announce the signing of a Practice Services Agreement, signifying a major leap forward in cardiovascular patient care and clinical leadership in the Atlanta region.

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    Shortness Of Breath

    Shortness Of Breath Is Linked To Other Medical Conditions

     

    Shortness of breath, also known as dyspnea, is the feeling when you cannot get enough air into your lungs. Dyspnea can be a sign of many different health conditions, some of them life-threatening. Shortness of breath can also be due to strenuous activity, so it is not usually something to worry about unless you are experiencing other symptoms as well.

     

    Risk Factors For Dyspnea

    Dyspnea is very common since there are many different causes, but certain factors increase your risk of feeling short of breath. There is a higher chance of experiencing dyspnea for people with anemia, asthma, anxiety, heart or lung problems, a history of smoking, infections, lack of physical activity, and severe obesity.

     

    Causes Of Dyspnea

    Shortness of breath can have many different causes, as it is a symptom of a variety of other medical issues such as heart and lung conditions. If you have acute dyspnea, it only lasts for up to a few days, unlike chronic dyspnea which lasts longer than three to six months.

    Causes of acute shortness of breath include allergies, anxiety, choking, infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia, injuries, medications, extreme temperatures, carbon monoxide poisoning, pulmonary embolism (blood clot in your lungs), and heart attacks. Causes of chronic shortness of breath include asthma, as this narrows your airways and causes difficulty breathing, and heart failure, since this causes heart muscle strain and affects the ability to pump blood. Other causes include lung disease, obesity, and poor fitness.

     

    Symptoms Of Dyspnea

    Signs that you may be experiencing shortness of breath include difficulty breathing, noisy breathing, fast and shallow breaths, an increase in your pulse rate, wheezing, chest tightening and chest pain, pale or bluish skin, and cold or clammy skin. If you experience chest tightness or pain in your chest area, it may be a sign that you are having a heart attack. Call 911 immediately if you believe this is the case.

     

    Testing For Dyspnea

    To determine what is causing your shortness of breath, your doctor may order a variety of tests. They will begin with a physical exam to see if your dyspnea is caused by a virus or infection. Once this is complete, they may conduct other tests such as pulse oximetry, chest X-ray, CT scans, blood tests, lung function tests, and cardiopulmonary exercise tests, also known as stress tests. These tests help your doctor discover if there is an underlying medical condition contributing to your shortness of breath.

     

    Treatment For Dyspnea

    Treatment for your shortness of breath will depend on what condition is causing it. Your treatment may include lifestyle changes such as increasing physical activity to strengthen your heart and lungs. This is not limited to just exercise, but also cardiac or pulmonary rehabilitation. Your doctor may also suggest that you learn breathing techniques to facilitate better airflow.

    Other treatments your doctor may deem necessary include prescribed medications such as bronchodilators, which are inhaled drugs like albuterol that relax your airways and allow for easier breathing. This form of medication is common with conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Other medications include pain and anxiety medicines which can ease breathlessness.

    Another form of treatment that may be recommended is oxygen therapy, where you receive additional oxygen through either a mask or a tube placed in the nostrils to help you breathe more comfortably. Before you can receive this treatment, your blood oxygen levels must be measured by your doctor and determined to be below the necessary point.

     

    Prevention Of Dyspnea

    The easiest way to prevent experiencing shortness of breath is to enact certain lifestyle changes, such as avoiding tobacco, practicing breathing and relaxation techniques, and maintaining a healthy weight. Other prevention techniques include avoiding inhaling chemical irritants that can irritate your lungs, like paint fumes or car exhaust, avoiding extreme temperatures and air pollution, and keeping any medication or oxygen equipment in good condition.

     

    How CVG Can Help

    CVG offers a variety of services that can check and treat causes of fainting. At CVG, we perform stress tests that will observe blood flow and test for Atrial Fibrillation. There are three types of stress tests that we perform:

    A treadmill test is a test in which you will walk on a treadmill that gets faster and steeper every 3 minutes. This will stress your heart so that our nurse or doctor can determine your EKG and blood pressure.

    An echo test is performed before and after your treadmill test to determine how well your heart pumps blood.

    A nuclear stress test is a treadmill test that is prefaced by an injection of medicine that shows the flow of blood to your heart.

     

    We also offer cardiac catheterization, in which a catheter is inserted into the heart in order to take pictures and conduct tests. This procedure allows doctors to gain more information about your condition and suggest treatment options if the fainting episode is due to heart conditions.

    If these tests determine a problem, we offer treatment solutions to fix several conditions. Learn more about our services here, or schedule an appointment to talk to our doctors.

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