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Heart shortness of breath: how to recognize and how to treat


A condition in which a person feels shortness of breath, accompanied by an increase in the frequency of breaths — this is the heart shortness of breath. The depth of breathing differs from the normal by nearly half, changing the pulse and heart rate.

Shortness of breath can be of two types:

  • Physiological shortness of breath is a normal phenomenon that occurs as a result of the increased need of myocardium in oxygen. This situation is typical for intense physical exertion (e.g., running). If a person is anxious or he release adrenaline, breathing can also become intermittent and frequent.
  • If shortness of breath occurs not only during exercise, but also in a state of absolute rest, this condition is called a pathological shortness of breath. This is one of the main signs of heart failure — a condition in which interferes with the normal operation of the heart muscle, the result of which affects the blood supply to the organs and tissues.

Heart shortness of breath as a symptom of heart disease

The person begins to suffer from constant breathlessness when the heart does not cope with its functions. With various heart diseases there is a slow movement of blood through the pulmonary vascular, and reduces the possibility of saturation of blood cells with oxygen molecules.

Breath in such conditions becomes difficult, therefore, increases the frequency of breathing (as a response to lack of oxygen).

сердечная недостаточность

Shortness of breath may occur in the following diseases:

  • coronary artery disease;
  • cardiomyopathy;
  • heart disease;
  • cardiosclerosis;
  • pathology of heart valves;
  • inflammatory processes in the cardiac muscle.

Providing 4 types of heart failure, which depend on the degree and nature of the load and its intensity.

Classification of heart failure The degree of stress
First class Shortness of breath occurs at high loads and has a pronounced degree of intensity.
The second class Shortness of breath occurs with moderate exercise (walking briskly).
Third grade Breathing difficulties appear even at weak stress on the heart. In this type of heart failure even familiar things (e.g. cleaning the house) caused slight and mild shortness of breath.
Fourth grade Shortness of breath may disturb the patient at any time of the day, appearing even in a state of complete rest.

Sleep apnea

Shortness of breath that occurs at night — the most severe formpathology, as the patient with this diagnosis can't fully sleep.

Attacks of dyspnea occur as soon as a person takes a horizontal position. This is because in this position the venous blood begins to flow into the heart that is unable to process large amounts. As a result, the blood stagnates in the lungs, feeling chest pain, having difficulty breathing.

What to do?

The only way for patients with night attacks of dyspnea can be change posture for sleeping. Such patients are advised to sleep sitting or semi-sitting, legs should be pushed down (that is, the knees should be above the ankle and feet).

In this position of the blood flows in the veins of the legs, which significantly reduces the load on the heart and allows it to work in normal mode.



To understand what shortness of breath is bothering the person — physiological or heart, it is important to know the pathological features of dyspnea. This is necessary for accurate diagnosis and treatment regimen.

The symptoms of cardiac dyspnea:

  • amplified in the supine position (if the patient sits, breathing is restored);
  • appears (increases) with increasing heart load, when this may occur even with loads of low intensity;
  • the breath becomes long and painful, there is a faint burning sensation in the chest and behind the breastbone.

Important! In severe forms of heart failure shortness of breath is usually associated with edema of the limbs and good listening to the wheezing in his lungs. Hands and feet often feel cold even at normal temperature in the street and indoors.

For the diagnosis of pathology the patient must consult a cardiologist and undergo the necessary examination.

Emergency treatment of cardiac dyspnea

Sometimes attacks of dyspnea can be so strong that the patient is required to provide emergency assistance, otherwise there is a very real threat of loss of consciousness and other more serious complications.

Treatment of cardiac dyspnea, in most cases, starts with the events of first aid, so if the family or among friends and acquaintances, there are people with heart disease, to know algorithm of action in this pathology is necessary.

  • With the patient to remove all belts and tight bracelets, unbutton the top two buttons (to clear the area of the chest), open the window or bring people to the street.
  • To eliminate all irritant factors, to ensure complete peace of mind and ensure that the patient didn't care about anything.
  • Seat patient on a chair or lay on the bed so that your upper body was raised.
  • Frommedicines can be used Nitroglycerin. The medication should be put under the tongue and hold until dissolved.
  • If possible, use an oxygen mask or pillow.


врач слушает сердце

If dyspnea becomes intolerable, the patient begins to think about how to treat cardiac dyspnea.

To assign a scheme of treatment should only be a doctor, because heart diseases are classified as diseases that do not allow errors in the tactics of treatment. Despite this, General guidelines for all patients will be identical.

Patients with heart failure should:

  • completely abandon the use of alcoholic beverages and Smoking;
  • to avoid any stress and factors that can cause emotional anxiety;
  • to establish a mode of physical activity (the ideal solution would be Hiking at a leisurely pace);
  • to adjust the diet.

Food for heart problems is a separate item of medical therapy. Patients are encouraged to enter in the menu foods rich in protein, fiber and vitamins. Meat, poultry, cheese, dairy products, fish, fruits and vegetables. For the proper functioning of the heart necessary potassium and sodium, which in large quantities contained in the dried fruits (dried apricots, prunes, raisins).

Diet with any form of heart failure should limit simple carbohydrates, fats, and sugar. Products containing these elements should be present in the menu in a minimal amount.


Drug therapy in cardiac dyspnea is aimed at addressing the problems of the heart, so the drugs are selected based on primary disease. For treatment can be assigned to the following groups of drugs:

  • beta-blockers (reduce the number of contractions of the heart muscle);
  • ACE inhibitors (dilate blood vascular and arteries and restore their work);
  • diuretics (remove excess fluid, eliminate swelling, thereby reducing the load on the heart);
  • glycosides (eliminate the arrhythmia and have a cardiotonic effect).

In the therapy cardiac dyspnea may be included treatment of folk remedies (if no contraindications).

Traditional methods

народные средства
  1. Using blender or grinder to grind for 10 lemons (together with peel) and cloves of garlic (pilled). Put everything in a glass container with volume of 1 liter and pour natural honey, preferably floral. All thoroughly and put into a dark place for 3-4 days. The mixturetake 1 tablespoon 2-3 times a day.
  2. In the spring you can try to get rid of shortness of breath with early birch leaves. This requires the young leaves washed and finely chopped, after which 40 g of the obtained raw material mixed with a glass of boiling water. To insist in 20-40 minutes. A day just one Cup of infusion.
  3. Leaves cranberries — another effective remedy for getting rid of shortness of breath. For the broth you need to take a handful of raw materials and add 500 ml of boiling water. Cook for 10-15 minutes, then put in a cool place. Drink 50-70 ml per day.

Cardiac dyspnea is an unpleasant condition, which can bring a sick person a lot of pain. To get rid of it it is possible, but it is necessary to approach the problem comprehensively and to engage in independent action. Treatment of all cardiac pathologies should only be conducted under the supervision of experienced and qualified physician.