Shortness of Breath: The Ignored Sign of Heart Disease

With the season for deadly heart attacks just around the corner, you'll want to be aware of this new, yet obvious tell-tale sign of high-risk heart disease: Shortness of breath.

In fact, patients who have shortness of breath -- considered in the grand scheme not as important as chest pains -- have a higher risk of dying from cardiac disease than those with typical cardiac pains, according to researchers. Moreover, shortness of breath, in some cases, may be the only sign a patient is suffering from serious coronary artery disease that needs treatment, doctors say.

Based on a study of some 18,000 patients, those who experienced shortness of breath were four times more likely to die from a cardiac problem than those with other more noticeable symptoms, and twice as likely compared to those who experience the chest pains that are common with heart attacks.

As you know, the ultimate treatment for heart disease -- exercise -- isn't something you can buy at a drug store. In fact, it costs you nothing more than your time. But, to get the most out of exercise, you must view it as you would any drug that needs to be prescribed precisely.

If you need some guidance to get started, you've certainly come to the right place, as our contributing editors and experts Paul Chek and Ben Lerner can offer you plenty of guidance.

New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 353, No. 18, November 3, 2005: 1889-1898

EurekAlert November 2, 2005

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