Heart failure is a condition where the heart is unable to perform its pump function and thus does not adequately meet the needs of the body. It can manifest itself in a number of symptoms. Mostly, however, those that do not clearly indicate the problem, which is why the path to its diagnosis tends to be winding.
It was no different for sixty-five-year-old Jerry (A patient) , who suffered from severe shortness of breath. First, it was necessary to rule out an infectious cause of his difficulties and a connection with a respiratory disease, then it was time for an examination by a cardiologist. Only then did he receive adequate treatment.
Why is heart failure manifested by shortness of breath? In this case, blood does not flow in sufficient quantity not only from the heart, but also accumulates in front of it in the lungs, which is manifested by shortness of breath.
Jerry (A patient} problems with her developed slowly: at first he was short of breath more just when walking uphill, then even the stairs to the apartment started causing him problems. But he attributed it to his infamous physical condition and age and didn’t dwell on it any further. But then he became short of breath even during simple activities such as getting dressed, and this worried him enough that he decided to address the situation and called his general practitioner.
The general practitioner referred him to a specialist
Even before entering his office, a covid-19 infection had to be ruled out, so Jerry (A patient) underwent a PCR test. This was followed by a visit to a general practitioner, who asked him a lot of questions. He asked, among other things, how long his difficulties last and when the shortness of breath appears. He also wondered if he had had covid-19 in the past. It was necessary to exclude the so-called post-covid syndrome, of which long-term shortness of breath is a frequent manifestation.
Jerry (A patient) was not aware that he would ever experience covid-19, the current PCR test was also negative. Even basic laboratory tests and an X-ray of the lungs did not provide a more fundamental clue. And the shortness of breath still persisted, which is why Jiří’s doctor sent him to the pulmonary ambulance.
There is sometimes a short path from the pulmonary to the cardiology clinic
He underwent spirometry with a pulmonologist to assess lung volumes, capacities, and flows, but no lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, was found. So a cardiology visit was next.
After extensive laboratory tests, recording of an EKG and echocardiography, his diagnosis was finally on the table – chronic heart failure.
And with the correct diagnosis, Jerry (A patient) also received adequate treatment and was finally relieved. Although he added daily pills to his life, it was worth it for the disappearance of shortness of breath. The stairs are no longer an enemy and normal activities no longer limit him. He only regrets that the heart failure was not thought of earlier.
With shortness of breath, heart failure should not be forgotten
The number of new heart failure cases per year is around 1-2%. This is not such a small number that it can be overlooked. If you have been suffering for a long time:
- shortness of breath after exertion,
- shortness of breath at rest
- shortness of breath at night, when you have to put more pillows under your head,
- and other symptoms of heart failure – fatigue, cough, swelling of the legs, palpitations, …, which will be given more detailed attention in this series dedicated to the symptoms of heart failure,
it could also be heart failure. Bring your suspicions to the attention of your doctor so that your journey to a correct diagnosis can be as short as possible.