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Lung diseases

Sudden Shortness of Breath When Walking

07/22/2010

Question:

For years I have been able to walk a mile or more a day and then all of a sudden I can not walk more than the length of my driveway without being out of breath and having to stop. There is no air for me to breathe. I have to stop. In less than 15 seconds I am okay and can start walking again. I quit smoking 13 years ago. I have had this problem for seven years and have been misdiagnosed as asthma as my heart doc just found right side enlargement and oxygen dropping to 82 on walking which my lung specialist never checked. My chest x-ray is clear but I can not pass the breathing test so my lung doc says I have copd and has put me on oxygen. I do not cough at all, I have no swelling, I had a cat scan for blood clots in my lungs. My cardio doc and another doc have listened to my lungs, they do not think I have copd and they do not agree with my doctor that I have severe copd. When I walk my oxygen level drops. I am not tired, all of the other test they have run have come back normal. I have acid reflux and wonder if Prilosec and the start of my shortness of breath is just a coincidence?

Answer:

The prilosec is not causing your problems. I am more concerned that you may have pulmonary hypertension given the fact that the right side of your heart is enlarged and your oxygen level drops so significantly. Without specific data, it is hard for me to make more specific assessments than that. Have your doctor investigate the possibility of pulmonary hypertension.

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Response by:

Jonathan P Parsons, MD, MSc Jonathan P Parsons, MD, MSc
Clinical Associate Professor
Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University