What is causing my chest tightness, leg swelling and shortness of breath?

General responses to selected questions from Joel Braunstein, MD, of Johns Hopkins University and Joseph Toscano, MD.


I have been experiencing chest tightness, shortness of breathe, swelling of the legs, and have been having a very hard time keeping my feet and hands warm. I am only 29. My blood pressure has been around 150 over 95 (home checked). Is there something to worry about?


Chest tightness and shortness of breath are worrisome symptoms. Usually they indicate a problem with either the heart (for example, heart failure or heart attack) or lungs (for example, asthma). Without swelling of the legs, these can also be due to anxiety, but this shouldn't be assumed without having a doctor check your heart and lungs first.

Swelling of the legs can come from heart problems or liver or kidney disease. Cold feet and hands can come from many things, not necessarily related to any of the above. The bottom line: see a doctor as soon as possible. You need to be examined and possibly have some basic tests (blood work, EKG, chest X-ray) to figure out exactly what's going on.