Learn more about Dyspnea Diagnosis and Treatment at Brigham and Women's Hospital.View More Info »
Dyspnea is shortness of breath, which normally occurs with exercise or exertion. When dyspnea is chronic and not caused by physical exertion, it may be a symptom of an underlying cause. Pulmonary conditions that can cause dyspnea including asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, pneumonia, pulmonary edema, pulmonary hypertension, and other conditions.
Dyspnea also may be caused by a number of heart conditions, including:
- Congestive heart failure (CHF), the inability of the heart to supply sufficient blood flow to the rest of the body. CHF may be caused by a variety of heart conditions.
- Ventricular dysfunction, a condition with one of the heart's ventricles, compromises the heart's ability to pump blood.
- Diastolic dysfunction, a condition of one or both of the heart's ventricles that occurs during the diastolic phase, when the heart fills with blood before pumping it out to the body.
- Cardiomyopathy, which is any disorder that affects the heart muscle and its ability to pump blood effectively.
For patients seeking treatment for dyspnea caused by a cardiovascular condition, Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) in Boston provides state-of-the-art treatment in a world-class facility.
Treatment for dyspnea at BWHFind A Doctor »
Physicians at BWH treat dyspnea related to many cardiovascular conditions at the Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center, a state-of-the-art facility that provides the most comprehensive cardiovascular care in New England. Equipped with the latest technology, the Center has helped BWH maintain a reputation as one of the top five pulmology and cardiovascular care centers in the United States, providing patients with the latest in artery disease treatment, heart failure treatment and many other services.
The Multidisciplinary Dyspnea/Exercise Intolerance and Performance Evaluation Center is available to evaluate clients with unexplained resting or exertional shortness of breath, and exercise limitations. The Center brings together a core group of clinical and fitness experts from Pulmonary and Cardiovascular Medicine to collaboratively develop streamlined approaches to assessing and treating clients with unexplained shortness of breath. The Center can also provide performance evaluations and make recommendations to bring your physical fitness to the next level. The evaluation begins with a review of any prior assessment and testing that has been performed. Among the tools used by Center staff, in addition to reviewing prior information and a clinical history, includes (1) pulmonary function testing; (2) echocardiography; (3) cardiac catheterization; (4) radiographic and nuclear imaging modalities; and (5) cardiac stress and cardiopulmonary exercise testing. In some cases, simply reviewing the previously collected data will provide an explanation thus preventing unnecessary testing. Based on the findings, recommendations are made.
Comprised of a team of specialists in pulmonary medicine, cardiovascular medicine, neurology, and cardiovascular imaging, the Center strives to greatly reduce work-up time and speed diagnosis for patients with unexplained dyspnea. The team is among few in the nation to offer highly specialized cardiopulmonary exercise testing designed to pinpoint the source of dyspnea and exercise limitation. Advanced Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing at BWH is performed after placement of a right heart catheter and a radial arterial line to evaluate heart and lung hemodynamics and assess how the patient is utilizing oxygen.
Dyspnea patients at the Center receive expert treatment from some of the country's leading physicians, and the kind of compassionate care that makes all the difference when facing a challenging physical illness.
Physicians in the Shapiro Cardiovascular Center work closely with dyspnea specialists in the BWH Dyspnea Center to accurately diagnose the cause of the dyspnea and create a treatment plan. Treatment for dyspnea depends on the underlying condition, and may include coronary disease treatment, vascular disease treatment and other procedures.
Specialists at BWH diagnose dyspnea using Advanced Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing. In this procedure, catheters placed in the body monitor the patient during exercise to determine how the body is using oxygen and to evaluate the function of the heart and lungs. BWH is one of only a few hospitals in the U.S. that offers Advanced Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing. Many other standard forms of diagnostic testing – including noninvasive cardiopulmonary testing, electrocardiogram, computed tomography and pulmonary function testing – tend to provide inconclusive results and/or have a higher rate of misdiagnosis.Learn more about Dyspnea Diagnosis and Treatment at Brigham and Women's Hospital. »
This page was last modified on 7/31/2015