Shortness of breath may be a sign of heart failure

Suffering from chronic shortness of breath? Beware, you may be at risk of a potential heart failure or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), a study has found.

Shortness of breath, which is medically known as dyspnea, is often defined as an intense tightening in the chest, air hunger or a feeling of suffocation.

“Shortness of breath is often a sign of heart or lung disease because these two organs are most closely involved in the respiratory system,” said Nasser Ahmadi, research student at University of Gothenburg in Sweden, in a statement.

Chronic shortness of breath can also be considered as an equally important warning signal as high blood pressure, the researchers said.

However, shortness of breath is an often overlooked symptom as people tend to associate it with ageing.

“The fact that people do not seek medical advice for their breathlessness is often due to people associating their symptoms with the natural process of ageing. But if you notice that you experience increased shortness of breath during exertion, you should seek medical attention,” Ahmadi added.

The study showed that the faster the detection, the better prognosis. With early intervention, patients can avoid suffering and the need for hospitalisation decreases.

In the study, people with shortness of breath for six weeks or more who sought medical advice for their breathlessness were found to have underlying diseases like a potential heart failure or a hidden obstructive lung disease that was developing.