Dyspnea Is a Sign of Old Lady Heart Syndrome

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Do not ignore chronic dyspnea because it can be a symptom of the so-called old lady heart syndrome. This is a newly discovered variant of heart failure, which is, unfortunately, often overlooked and misdiagnosed.

A 61-year-old Englishwoman Sadhana Press from Harrow has felt significantly out of breath in the last years of her life. Sometimes she had a feeling that she could not get enough oxygen into the lungs. At first, the woman believed this is due to excess weight, but last March, on a holiday in Jordan, the mother of two children realized that the situation was more serious.

A general practitioner in England assigned Sadhana an echocardiogram to study the structure of the heart, as well as an angiogram – an X-ray, for which a special solution is introduced in the blood to check the patency of the heart arteries. The tests showed that the patient was suffering from heart failure.

This breakdown occurs when the heart muscle increases and weakens, so that blood cannot be sufficiently pumped throughout the body. Heart failure causes shortness of breath and fatigue, as well as swelling of the feet and ankles. The most common causes of heart failure are hypertension, heart disease, previous myocardial arrhythmia and heart valve defects.

However, Sadhana faced a new kind of heart failure, which predominantly affects women. That is why the disease is called old lady heart syndrome. Unfortunately, doctors do not know many ways to deal with the disorder. This syndrome does not make the heart increase, on the contrary, it causes a reduction of the heart muscle as well as its roughness.

A healthy heart pumps blood with each beat. Between the beats, ventricles relax quickly, to be filled with blood for the next release. Heart failure causes the heart to increase so that it takes more effort to pump blood. However, in the last decade, a growing number of people who are hospitalized with congestive heart failure do not have an enlarged heart.

Such patients suffer from another variety of the disease. Their ventricles do not relax between the beats and are not sufficiently filled with blood, so that it is poorly pumped through the body. The reason for heart muscle coarsening is unknown, but there is a theory that this is a consequence of scarring caused by heart damage from hypertension, diabetes or obesity. Due to coarsening, the heart becomes smaller. Since this syndrome is more common among women, especially the elderly, it has been called like this.

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