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Respiratory Therapist/Cant take a deep breath, shortness of breath after exercise


History of Hypertension
On Toprol xl 12.5, HCTZ 25

About six months ago I was doing my daily ride on my exercise bike when suddenly I felt a tightness as well as shortness of breath after I got off the bike. I was terrified a I have read it can signal a heart attack. I immediately rushed to the hospital and after getting a clean bill of health I was sent home, unfortunately the condition still affect me and im terrified one day ill drop dead from something that has been missed.

What I feel- Basically my ability to take a deep breath is stopped. Like inagine trying to get a deep breath and you cant get more than 60/100 on that breath. It usually happens after I STOP exercising and lingers for 30-50 minutes. Its an awful strangling sensation.

Ive irritated the heck out or the cardiology/pulmonary departments at my local hospital and these are the following tests I have gotten to rule out pulmonary/cardiac issues.

2 CXR normal
1 Full PFT with flow volume loop- normal
2x Echocardiogram- Normal
1 Stress Echocardiogram- Normal
Pulse oximeter always registers 98-99

What do you think could be causing this terrifying shortness of breath? I am very concerned I have coronary artery disease or something that they simply havent found.

Thank you

ANSWER: Hi Kevin,

All the tests you have already had done are basically the tests I would have recommended. Do you have a history of Anxiety? The only thing I can think of is you may have shortness of breath secondary to nerves and/or anxiety.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thabks so much for getting back to me sir.

I do in fact have a history of anxiety and tend to he written off. The issue is these episodes arwnt preceded by any anxiety at all, Sometimes they do cause a panic attack but mostly they are just extremely frustrating. Although it does happen at rest sometimes too. Do you think I can dismiss CAD as a possibility after the stress echo? The reason I worry about CAD is i have read how shortness of breath can signal a coronary issue. Thank you again sir.

Hi Kevin:  

ECHOs tests are pretty clear and hard to misinterpret. With all the less invasive tests all being clear, I would venture to say the right tests have been done to confirm that your heart and lungs are essentially fine. I would consider asking your doctor to increase your anti-anxiety medication, to see if it helps. If you are still concerened about CAD, the only thing left to do would be a diagnostic cath procedure, but that would be a pretty invasive procedure to find out what all the other tests essentially confirmed already.  

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Larry W. Wical, BA-RRT


I CAN answer: ALL questions and queries related to the following topics... - Oxygen - Asthma - COPD - Bronchitis - Emphysema - Pneumonia (Viral/Bacterial) - Tuberculosis (TB) - SARS - Influenza (Flu) - Vaccines - Pulmonary Embolism - Pleural Effusion - Atelectasis - Inhalation injuries (burns, chemicals, etc.) - PFTs - Cardiovascular health - Sleep Apnea - BiPap/CPAP - Ventilators ("Respirators") - Aspiration injuries - Thoracic injuries - Lung contusions - Tracheal injuries - Artificial Tracheostomy - Secretions - Prolotherapy/Regenerative Injection Therapy (RIT): A patient's experience/perspective - General health and fitness I CANNOT answer: Questions that vary too far from my primary scope of pulmonary and cardiovascular care and fitness. I promise to be open and honest about my knowledge of submitted topics, and will always openly provide my personal as well as professional feedback as it relates.


Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT, RCP) since 2005. I have worked primarily in the acute care, critical care, burn care and home care settings.

NBRC - National Board of Respiratory Care AARC - American Association of Respiratory Care

-All About Kids Magazine -The Clermont Sun -Cincy Sports & Fitness Magazine -Many online Fitness and Health blogs and "webazines"

- B.A. in Communication (1997) - A.A.S. in Respiratory Science (2005) - RRT license (state of OH, KY and IN) - Basic Life Saving (BLS) - Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) - Advanced Burn Life Support (ABLS)

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Currently work in the city's largest academic/research hospital.

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