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Shortness of breath without chest pain can signify the presence of high risk heart disease

LOS ANGELES (Nov. 2, 2005) While most people know that chest pain can signify the presence of heart disease, it is less well known that shortness of breath can also be a serious cardiac symptom.

Now, researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center have found that patients with shortness of breath can have a higher risk of dying from cardiac disease than patients without symptoms, and even than patients with typical cardiac pain.

Authors of a study published in the November 3 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine reported that shortness of breath was a significant predictor of death from cardiac causes, as well as death from any cause.

The study was based on a retrospective evaluation of medical records of nearly 18,000 patients referred for cardiac stress testing who were then followed-up later. Researchers found that when compared to patients without shortness of breath, those with shortness of breath were significantly more likely to experience death from cardiac cause than patients without shortness of breath. More than 1,000 of the patients denied having chest pain but answered "yes" to the question, "Do you experience shortness of breath?"

"Patients often do not interpret shortness of breath as a serious symptom, but particularly in patients who have cardiac risk factors and in patients without lung disease, it may be the only sign of the presence of serious coronary artery disease that may need treatment," said Daniel Berman, M.D., senior author of the study and the Director of Cardiac Imaging at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "If we can identify patients with coronary disease before an event occurs, then the vast majority of the cardiac events could be prevented by modern therapies. The problem is identifying the patient at risk," he added.

In the retrospective study, patients without known coronary artery disease who had shortness of breath were four times more likely to suffer death from a cardiac cause t
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Contact: Simi Singer
simi.singer@cshs.org
310-423-3674
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
2-Nov-2005


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