Asthma or Heart

allynnc Community Member June 16, 2009
  •  My wife, born in 1944, was diagnosed with asthma at age 15.  She used prescription inhalers since then with several trips to the ER over the years.  Major attacks came after being emotionally upset.  She was active physically taking dance lessons, able to walk miles and miles, but when upset she had problems breathing.  She had one hip replaced in 1999 where they found a slightly leaking heart valve not needing treatment.  In 2001 she had the other hip replaced.  Great recovery on both and she jokes that those hips are the best parts of her body.  

    In spring 2006 she started having shoulder pains and by October 2006 she was seeing 6 different doctors who all said arthritis and she was taking 6 each 4mg tablets of Medrol for arthritis in her shoulders and upper arms and asthma.  In November 2006 she saw a 7th doctor was prescribed a nebulizer.  By Christmas 2006 she was using the nebulizer every few hours.  In one week in January 2007 I took her to see 3 different doctors and they said COPD.  She couldn't breath and her ankles were swelling.  At the end of that week I took her to the ER. 

    The ER had her transported to Tampa General Hospital by ambulance where she had emergency heart surgery replacing all three major blood vessels to the heart and having a section of dead muscle removed and the heart reshaped with graphs.  They gave her a 2% chance of survival.  After a few days her breathing was worse yet and they blamed it on COPD after 40 years of smoking cigarettes.  After an echocardiogram, they operated again and removed a 1/4 thick hard pericardium.  She is now an officer in her line dance club that meets weekly and attends aquasizers 2-3 times per week.  Her heart now tests better than average.  Oh, it cured her asthma.  She has not needed an inhaler since February 2007. 

    In discussions with the surgeon, she had one abnormally small blood vessel to the heart that was 100% blocked.  A normal one 100% blocked, and the third major vessel was 90% blocked.  The one small blood vessel was probably what caused her symptoms of asthma.   I would think there may be thousands of other "asthma" patients that really have heart problems.

2 Comments
  • John Bottrell
    Health Pro
    Jun. 17, 2009

    It sounds like your wife has been through the medical ringer.  I'm glad to hear she's finally feeling better.

     

    To be fair to your wife's doctors, it is possible she had asthma as a child, as stress can trigger an asthma attack.  Likewise, if your wife had fluid in her lungs that too can trigger an asthma attack.  And while asthma rescue...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    It sounds like your wife has been through the medical ringer.  I'm glad to hear she's finally feeling better.

     

    To be fair to your wife's doctors, it is possible she had asthma as a child, as stress can trigger an asthma attack.  Likewise, if your wife had fluid in her lungs that too can trigger an asthma attack.  And while asthma rescue medicine won't resolve the cardiac issue, it will help the asthma issue.

     

    However, it's also possible it was a cardiac issue all along.  I have found a great article that might be of interest for you at the MayoClinic.com.  It explains how cardiac diseases can easily be confused with asthma.  I'll link to it here

     

    Basically, it states that cardiac problems can cause fluid to build up in your lungs, increasing the pressure in there, and this causes the fluid to squeeze the air passages making them wheeze (cardiac wheeze).  Because she is short of breath and wheezing, the illness mimics asthma.

     

    Thanks to modern wisdom and technology, it seems your wife is finally on the track to good breathing. 

    • allynnc
      Jun. 17, 2009

      Thanks for the Mayo link.  My wife's asthma was probably seen by 20 or more doctors over the years.  She was diagnosed by her own family doctor.  College doctors.  After college she moved across the state and saw different doctors.  Because I was the USAF she saw a variety of military but mostly civilian doctors as I moved around the...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Thanks for the Mayo link.  My wife's asthma was probably seen by 20 or more doctors over the years.  She was diagnosed by her own family doctor.  College doctors.  After college she moved across the state and saw different doctors.  Because I was the USAF she saw a variety of military but mostly civilian doctors as I moved around the world.  Then we retired and same diagnosis...same symtoms.  After the heart surgeries, she no longer has symtoms of asthma.  Apparently it was a genetic small vessel to the heart that caused all of the symtoms.  Now that the heart fixed, no symtoms... over two years now without a single breathing problem and no need for an inhaler that she had needed for the previous 47 years.

       

      She used to get a cold and it went right to her lungs????  She has had several colds since the surgery without any serious lung problems.  Total relief from asthma.  I just wonder how many other people may have the same heart problem misdiagnosed.