Exertional Shortness of Breath

I would like to ask anyone for their opinions and suggestions to a current problem I have been experiencing. I have a few "symptoms" that I don't know if they are considered a "diagnosis" or not: atherosclerosis, HTN, Hypercholesterol, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and GERD. I have been on 4 different blood pressure medications (one from each of the different categories), Lipitor 80 mg and Prilosec. For the past 2 months I have experienced shortness of breath going up and down stairs and after walking for a while as well as being "tired" all the time. When I mentioned this to my doctor, she ordered pulmonary function testing and lab work. Here's my frustration: the pulmonary function tests were while I was just sitting.....the technician told me they were within normal limits. I don't have shortness of breath while sitting and doing nothing.....only while moving. Why didn't they order pulmonary tests while I was walking? Should I continue to insist on further tests? I am becoming extremely frustrated at the lack of answers when I have a new symptom. Is my only option now that of NOT exercising and walking and stopping my medications? I don't like being out of breath when I do anything! Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Report post

6 replies. Join the discussion

I have no concrete advice for you. Your symptoms mirror mine for the last 3 years. It took us that long to find that I had peripheral artery/vascular disease.
They have to do a certain protocol with testing.
I started with pulmonology, went to Gastro ( gall bladder removal last summer). The cardiologist had me thru every test imaginable. All was normal. It wasn't until my younger sister had her dx of PAD did I think it might also be my problem. Stiff legs that felt like wet burning cement and shortness of breath with and without stairs.
It wasn't until my legs were cramping and my walking limited that I was tested for PAD. NO 2 people are alike nor are any 2 situations.
Keep a log of your symptoms it may help your medical team with their treatment of you.
I feel fortunate in having one leg treated tomorrow.
And I hope it is the beginning of improved health for me.. Best wishes to you. Keep us posted.

Report post

I would consider being evaluated for early heart failure... one of the earliest symptoms are fatigue or shortness of breath on exertion... just a thought...hope that you get some answers....

Report post

I concour with maureengratz above post! By all means get tested for heart failure. I had the same symtoms...shortness of breath going up stairs, carrying groceries, etc. I did have heart failure and have had a Crt D Device just implanted, so hopefully I will be feeling better soon! Everyone is different, but the sooner you get tested and know what the problem is, the sooner the treatment!

Good Luck and please keep us posted!

Report post

Hi ladies,
Would you mind sharing how they test for PAD and heart failure?

I agree that just testing the pulmonary function while sitting seems to be missing the boat! When my mom was getting in home physical therapy, they measured her O2 rate with a device they slipped on her finger both at resting and after exercising. My mom would be in denial about being out of breath at times. I tried to explain that a simple test of talking while you're exercising could also tell you if you're out of breath. She felt talking while exercising expends too much extra energy. lol

KK

Report post

I just went thru a nearly identical scenario in June. Shortness of breath of exertion. The doctors ordered pulmonary function which although showed I was asthmatic, which they knew, didn't show anything else. The took blood gases and still nothing. I kept insisting it was on exertion so finally as a last ditch effort to appease me, they ordered a 6 minute walking oximetry test. This test might be called other things as well. The technician placed an oxymeter on my finger and walked with me checking the reading constantly. The oxymeter shows oxygen concentration and heart rate. My oxygen did well only dropping 1-2% but my heart rate flat lined at 40. This was just after 2 minutes of the test. After resting for 10 minutes my heart rate stayed at 40.

Luckily the test was performed at the hospital and the technician took me to the emergency room where I was admitted. I have a defibrillator because of tachycardia. AI had never had a bradycardia event. Apparently my defibrillator had a setting for minimum heart rate set at 40. When the defibrillator representative turned off my defibrillator he found my natural heart rate to be 32. They reset the minimum heart rate to 60 and followed me in the hospital for a few days.

Once I was moving around, I noticed i had less shortness of breath although still not great. But the biggest difference was that I wasn't as dizzy and I had more energy.

I hope this information helps. Best of luck.
Karen

Report post

I've had shortness of breath and difficulty climbing stairs, but they were caused by two different problems. For the breathing problem, my cardiologist ordered a thalium stress test, which involves walking on a treadmill with a die injected in your arm. Then the tech takes pictures of your heart and arteries. The first time, in 2004, I learned it was not asthma but small clogges arteries in my heart that caused my coughing and shortness of breath while walking. Relief came in the form of Plavix.

Unfortunately, a couple of years later, I became totally tired constantly -- no other symptoms -- and that was caused by more severely clogged cardiac arteries and was resolved by a double by-pass surgery.

Also, watch out for the Lipitor. I was one of the few who suffered fatigue and muscle aches walking and going up stairs - it started gradually and got progressively worse. CoQ10 has helped, although I had to finally go off the statins.

Best wishes.

Report post

This discussion is closed to replies. We close all discussions after 90 days.

If there's something you'd like to discuss, click below to start a new discussion.

Things you can do

Support WomenHeart

Help WomenHeart reach its goals and support people like yourself by making a donation today.

Donate to  WomenHeart

Discussion topics

Heart health links and resources


The SCAD Ladies Stand Up -- Read the special report

Community leaders

Disclaimer

The information provided by this online support network through WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease and Inspire is for general informational purposes only. The information is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. If you are ill, or suspect that you are ill, see a doctor immediately. In an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease never recommends or endorses any specific physicians, products or treatments for any condition.