What Does Shortness of Breath Indicate?

Last updated: September 2022

Over 20 years ago I experienced shortness of breath that wouldn’t respond to my rescue inhaler. I had been having to use it more often in the preceding weeks. I was unable to breathe normally and my family called an ambulance. I was unconscious until I woke up in the ER.

Shortness of breath wasn't from my asthma

A respiratory therapist was giving me treatment. I intermittently struggled to breathe and when I discovered I had been taken to cardiac intensive care, I questioned this move. I was told I’d had a heart attack! I continued to disbelieve this until an angiogram revealed a 95% blockage in my left artery descending. After another breathing treatment, I had two stents placed in my artery. I almost immediately began to be able to breathe comfortably.

Asthma changes after a heart attack

After some tweaking of my asthma meds, I have never again experienced major shortness of breath. I also attended cardiac rehab, changed my diet and added meds.

My cardiologist said this was not an atypical heart attack symptom in a female! Fortunately, this is now being taught in medical school. You do NOT necessarily have chest pain with a heart attack!

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