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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Is there such a thing as heart asthma?

Every day at we get lots of asthma related questions. Below are some questions I thought my readers at the RT Cave would enjoy.

Your Question: Is there such a thing as ? according to my parents they said i have heart asthma that i inherited from my great grandmheart asthmaa but when i tell health representative that I have this they say that they haven't ever heard of that before

My humble answer: Alas, there is such a thing as heart asthma, although I usually refer to it as cardiac asthma. I suppose it could be hereditary if your family has the gene for some kind of heart disease or condition. It is a condition that is associated with heart failure and often mimics an asthma attack. I write about cardiac asthma more extensively in this post.

Basically, as your heart starts to poop out, fluid gets backed up into your lungs, increasing the blood pressure in your lungs, which in turn squeeze the air passages in your lungs from the outside (as opposed to from the inside as in real asthma), thus causing asthma-like symptoms: shortness of breath, tight chest, wheezing.

Cardiac asthma can be treated, but not with the same medicines used to treat asthma. Likewise, Cardiac asthma can also be prevented with proper patient wisdom, care and medicine.

If you have any further questions email me, or Visit's" Q&A section.

Also stay tuned to the RT Cave, as on 9/1/2010 I'll delve into the topic of heart failure in more detail. In the meantime, click here for therapies for heart failure.


TOTWTYTR said...

Although descriptive, "Cardiac Asthma" is not particularly accurate. My understanding is that the term comes from the wheeze like sounds that fine rales can make.

The problem with using the term in teaching is that it tends to lead too many students down the road of using beta agonists to treat what is in reality a cardiac condition that manifests itself as respiratory distress.

In EMS, being able to distinguish between Asthma or COPD and CHF is crucial as you no doubt can see. Without Xrays, we have to rely on clinical S&S to tell between the two.

Fortunately, ETCO2 is now readily available in the field to help with the decision. Even more fortunately, CPAP is available to us (and the patients) as well.

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