People are often confused when they hear the term “cardiac asthma.” After all, isn’t asthma a respiratory issue? What does it have to do with the heart? Learn what this condition is, possible treatments, and whether it’s a cause for concern.
Cardiac Asthma at a Glance
Similar to conventional or bronchial asthma, cardiac asthma is a condition characterized by wheezing, coughing, difficulty breathing, and other allergy-like symptoms. However, with cardiac asthma, the cause is directly related to the heart.
Causes of Cardiac Asthma
Cardiac asthma is caused by a failure in the left side of the heart. More specifically, the left ventricle that pumps blood to the body fails. This leads to fluid buildup in the lungs, a condition known as pulmonary edema. This creates blockages in the airways, ultimately leading to asthma-like conditions like coughing and breathing troubles.
This is a stark contrast to conventional or bronchial asthma, which is caused by an inflammation of the airways, leading to the airways narrowing. This form of asthma has nothing to do with the heart. Usually, people with bronchial asthma will cough and wheeze after breathing in irritants, such as dust, tobacco smoke, or air pollution.
Cardiac Asthma Symptoms
The symptoms of cardiac asthma are mainly similar to traditional asthma. Patients may experience sensations like:
- Labored breathing
- Chronic coughing
- Tightness in the chest
- Quickly losing breath when speaking
- Sweaty and clammy skin
With both bronchial and cardiac asthma, patients may also notice the symptoms worsen when they’re lying down and during evening hours. The symptoms may dissipate within minutes of sitting or standing up straight.
There’s one notable difference, however. With cardiac asthma, patients may cough out sputum, a froth-like substance similar to phlegm. This doesn’t happen with bronchial asthma. The sputum may be accompanied by blood.
Who is at Risk for Cardiac Asthma?
People at risk of left-side heart failure are vulnerable. Risk factors for this form of heart disease include:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- High blood pressure
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Overactive thyroid – abnormal thyroid function leads to excess hormone production, forcing the heart to work harder to keep up.
- Age. Heart failure risk doubles in men and triples in women every 10 years after the age of 65
- Prior heart attacks – this weakens your heart muscles, inhibiting their ability to pump blood.
It’s important to seek treatment if one or more of the risk factors apply to you and you experience asthma-like symptoms, especially if you’re coughing up sputum.
How to Treat Cardiac Asthma
Unlike asthma, cardiac asthma can’t be treated with an inhaler. There’s no direct treatment for cardiac asthma. Instead, doctors treat the underlying issue leading to heart failure. Improve your heart health, and the asthma-like symptoms should also subside.
Doctors may prescribe medication to lessen the stress on the heart. This includes administering morphine or nitroglycerin or using diuretics to shuttle fluid out of the lungs and airways. In more severe instances, doctors may administer oxygen to assist with your breathing.
Treatment at Home
Your physician will recommend remedies at home to gradually improve heart function. This may include the following lifestyle changes.
- Consume more whole fruits and vegetables
- Eliminate alcohol or consume it in moderation
- Eliminate tobacco products, including exposure to second-hand smoke
- Practice deep-breathing and relaxation techniques
- Maintain an ideal body weight
- Exercise regularly
Read also: Family History and Heart Disease: Understanding Your Risk
Have Cardiac Asthma Symptoms? Make an Appointment at CT Cardio
Some people experience left-heart failure without even realizing it until the symptoms become unbearable. Often, these symptoms include the conditions associated with cardiac asthma. If you experience any of the sensations, it’s important to listen to your body and see a cardiologist near you in Lafayette. LA. Schedule an appointment at CT Cardio today if you think you have cardiac asthma symptoms!
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