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What to know about cardiac asthma | BY HEIDI


 


Cardiac asthma feels similar to bronchial asthma, but the cause is congestive heart failure. Doctors focus on treating this heart condition, and managing the asthma may involve regular monitoring.


Cardiac asthma is one element of congestive heart failure, which involves the left side of the heart not pumping efficiently. Diagnosing the condition can take time.


When a person has congestive heart failure, their lungs become congested with fluid, and the person may feel unable to catch their breath. This feeling is not usually related to exercise.


Read on to learn more about cardiac asthma, including its symptoms, risk factors, and outlook.


What is cardiac asthma?

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As the heart pumps, it moves blood filled with oxygen from the lungs to the left atrium of the heart and then to the left ventricle. This is the largest chamber of the heart, and it sends the blood around the rest of the body.


Efficient pumping is important for healthy heart function. If the left ventricle is failing, the heart must work harder to pump blood forward.



Bronchial and cardiac asthma may have several links. Research from 2016 suggests, for example, that bronchial asthma could be a risk factor for heart conditions.


Symptoms


feeling breathless, at rest or during activity

wheezing

coughing

breathing quickly

having an increased heart rate

being fatigued

having nausea


A person may become aware of their condition because they wake up feeling breathless a few hours after going to sleep. Sitting up may ease the breathlessness, while lying flat may make it worse.



Diagnosis

A doctor first takes a thorough medical history, listens to the chest, and takes note of any symptoms and when they occur.


They may then ask for:


blood pressure tests

chest X-rays

electrocardiography, which measures electrical activity in the heart

blood tests

echocardiography, which uses ultrasound waves to create a picture of the heart

tests of breathing function

The results might indicate an enlarged heart, an irregular heartbeat, or a prolonged circulation time, which can point to heart failure.



It is also crucial for a doctor to distinguish cardiac asthma from other types of asthma, because this can affect choices about treatment.


Causes and risk factors


A different health condition may be the underlying cause of these two issues. Some health-related factors can increase the risk, including:


health conditions that affect the heart muscle

valvular heart disease

high blood pressure

coronary artery disease

an irregular heartbeat, such as a fast one

any acquired or genetic health condition that leads to high cholesterol and triglyceride levels

anemia

high pressure in the lungs

an overactive thyroid

birth irregularities that affect the heart’s function

drinking excess alcohol

using illegal drugs



The symptoms may be similar for anyone, but females can experience more severe ones.




Treatments

Treating cardiac asthma first involves addressing the underlying heart condition.


Monitoring the symptoms is key, and the treatment plan can also include:


taking diuretics to remove fluid

taking nitrates and morphine to reduce stress on the heart

taking one of a group of medications called inotropes

having surgery to repair or replace the heart valve

avoiding lying flat by keeping the head raised

reducing sodium levels in the diet

doing daily gentle exercise

drinking less liquid

A person may also need to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, do more physical activity, reduce stress, and try new techniques for enhancing mental well-being.

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