Breathlessness: Does anyone have advice... - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation
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Does anyone have advice about breathlessness? I'm 44 and had a heart attack 10 weeks ago and at first was a little breathless when exercising but now it's really bad and I can't walk more than a few yards without getting out of breath. My doctors haven't been much help and I'm wondering whether I should ask to be referred to hospital.

10 Replies

I am sorry to hear that, you are so young so unsure what would be the cause, although we all would like to help as much as we can but as you know none of us here are meds expert so you are right, its best to get yourself referred to hospital.

All the best and if you can do keep us in the loop.

MichaelJHHeart Star

Have you any odema (ankle swelling)? Fluid retention can occur after heart events and this sometimes occurs in the lungs causing breathlessness. A chest X-ray can easily check for this.

Hello Caroline

Sorry to hear of your problem with breathlessness. What sort of procedure did you have following your heart attack? Were you given any information as to how your heart was affected following the attack. If you are on beta blockers now and ticagrelor they can be a cause of feeling short breath however not to the extent you describe. If I were you I would ask for an urgent referral to see a Cardiologist or possibly even visit your A&E Department as this could be a signal that you need urgent reassesment I don't want to worry you with this but you shouldn't ignore or put up with these symptoms.

I am a runner - so know LOTS about breathlessness when exercising :) - but your situation sounds extreme and would also recommend that you go see a Doctor about it. Breathlessness is all about the muscles working, lungs converting air to oxygen and the heart pumping blood. When we use major muscles, they ask for blood (which carries oxygen to them) - this blood is supplied by the pumping heart which has picked up oxygen from the lungs . The blood flows through major arteries and other veins. So, as soon as you start to exercise, there is a long chain of activity going on to supply energy to your muscles. It only takes one blockage or inefficiency along that line for the muscles to not get what they want and then ask more urgently for more more!!! Have you ever been a smoker? Have you led an ACTIVE life before your heart attack? Are you carrying excessive weight? Are your lungs and heart accustomed to working hard ?? There are lots of reasons why you would be having this problem - but there are also physical problems too such as the ones that have been mentioned above.

Hi, I think it’s hard to say as we don’t know your treatment, prognosis or other factors. Your GP or rehab nurses should be able to guide you. Perhaps you not started rehab quite yet?

I was 46 what I had a cardiac arrest out cycling, resulted in 1 stent whilst I’m pretty good to go I remember the first few mi the experiencing all sorts. Looking back I wonder how much of it was anxiety driven.



What drugs are you on, some have the side effects of making breathlessness worse?

Go to your GP and discuss this. I put up with breathlessness, dry retching and coughing and feeling anxious and mentally fogged for months - change of meds and progressively reducing doses helped enormously. But you need to work on weight, exercise. diet and life generally.

Hi Caroline

I guess that you stop exercising when you start feeling uncomfortable. Thing should improve

Take care


Hi and thank you all so much for taking the time to respond to me. To answer your questions - I visited my doctor many times complaining of pain in my chest but kept being told it was anxiety and that I should have CBT. Eventually I was rushed to hospital with terrible pain and it turned out that I had suffered a small heart attack (one blocked artery and one partly blocked). I had a stent fitted and was prescribed tablets to clear the partly blocked one. The medicine I've been taking is Atorvastatin, Bisoprolol, Lanzoprazole, Ramipril, Ticagrelor and Aspirin. When I saw my doctor, he took me off Arorvatatin and Bisoprolo for three days to see if there was a difference; there wasn't. In the past few days they've given me an ECG and taken bloods and I get the feeling that's pretty much all that's going to happen. I did used to smoke and stopped a few months before the heart attack. I'm trying to exercise but probably not doing enough and I am carrying extra weight. I was a bit overweight when I had the attack from stopping smoking but if I'm honest, the mental health side of things hasn't been great and I know I've over eaten since so I'm now really trying to lose quite a bit of excess weight, maybe 4 stone. I'm guessing from your responses that I should either ask to be referred to hospital or just go along to A & E, or perhaps this will improve as I get more used to the pills and lose more weight. Thank you again for answering and I would love to hear any further comments you have :)

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