Breathlessness is very common, and can have lots of different causes. It can also come on at different times, for example walking up a hill or rushing for a bus, lying flat, or at rest. Many of the causes are not serious, but it is important that if you do notice you are more short of breath than you used to be, you get it checked out. Sometimes people have other symptoms at the same time, for example coughing, pain in the chest, feeling their heart racing or dizziness.
Some of the causes that are due to the heart include heart failure, coronary disease, problems with the rhythm of the heart or the heart valves.
A heart attack is often unlikely, but if you have had one before it is especially important that you look after your heart for the future. Sometimes heart problems can run in families too, so it is often useful to know a bit about your family history.
There are a few different tests that are often used to work out what the cause of breathlessness is. These are often simple, are quick to do, and do not hurt.
There are loads of good treatments available for breathing problems, which will depend on what the cause is. These can include advice on lifestyle changes, like giving up smoking and weight loss, and tablets. Sometimes patients are seen just the once and discharged, sometimes it is recommended to have follow up appointments, for example to see if a particular treatment is working.
Are you suffering from shortness of breath?