Other States

Breathlessness may be sign of cardiac asthma

: Doctors have warned that individuals above the age of 40 who are experiencing breathlessness during the winter season, when ground-level pollution increases, could be suffering from cardiac asthma.

The medical condition involves wheezing, coughing or shortness of breath due to congestive heart failure. It often goes undetected and can prove to be life threatening. National President of the Indian Medical Association Dr. A Marthanda Pillai said: “It is important to remember that any breathlessness after the age of 40, appearing for the first time in the winters, should be assumed to be cardiac asthma unless proved otherwise.” Delhi Chief Minister, 47, has reportedly decided to skip office due to bouts of cough triggered by rising pollution levels in the city.

Doctors said such patients should immediately have their blood pressure checked and get immediate medical attention if it is high. A first-onset of breathlessness can also be an indication of angina or heart attack. However, winter asthma or acute exacerbation of winter COPD (chronic bronchitis) is more common.

While asthma is a reversible airway obstruction, COPD is irreversible. Sudden exposure to cold, humidity and pollution can precipitate asthma in susceptible individuals.

“It is thus advised that the dosage of asthma medicines should be increased during the winters. An asthma attack occurs due to inflammation, narrowing and collection of fluid in the windpipe. Medicine needs to be taken to widen the windpipe and reduce inflammation,” said Dr. Vikas Maurya, consultant Respiratory Medicine Allergy & Sleep disorder, BLK Super Speciality Hospital.

He added that the World Health Organisation has shown that there is a strong link between air pollution exposure and respiratory illnesses, heart diseases as well as stroke.

Health experts said that high pollution levels put human beings at significant risk of acute respiratory infections, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.

Cardiologist Dr. K.K. Aggarwal said, “An easy way to detect the severity of the asthma attack is to ask the patient to speak full sentences. If the patient can do so, attack is mild. But if they are only able to speak in broken sentences then the asthma attack is moderate, and if the person is able to speak only words then the asthma attack is severe. A severe attack requires immediate hospitalisation.”

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 12:34:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/breathlessness-may-be-sign-of-cardiac-asthma/article7925821.ece

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