Cardiac Asthma vs. Bronchial Asthma

Cardiac Asthma vs. Bronchial Asthma
Many medical problems, in addition to asthma, can cause difficulty breathing, wheezing and coughing, including cardiac asthma. Have you heard of cardiac asthma? Sometimes cardiac asthma is mistaken as another type of bronchial asthma. While they may cause similar symptoms, these two medical issues are very different.

What is Cardiac Asthma?
Cardiac asthma is caused by heart failure, when the left side of the heart is unable to efficiently pump, which leads to a buildup of fluid in the lungs. The excess fluid in the lungs causes asthma-like symptoms.

Cardiac Asthma Symptoms
Cardiac asthma causes similar symptoms as bronchial asthma, including:

• Shortness of breath (with or without wheezing)
• Wheezing and/or cough
• Rapid and shallow breathing
• Increased blood pressure and heart rate
• Chest tightness
• A feeling of apprehension

What is Bronchial Asthma?
Bronchial asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung disease, which causes attacks of wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. Unlike cardiac asthma, bronchial asthma has a strong connection to allergies. This type of asthma is triggered when a person encounters irritants such as smoke from cigarettes, air pollution (both indoor and outdoor), allergens, certain medications, stress, anxiety, weather and respiratory infections. Vigorous exercise can also cause bronchial asthma in some people.

Differences Between Cardiac and Bronchial Asthma
While both cardiac and bronchial asthma can cause breathing issues, these two conditions are entirely different. Here are some of the main differences between bronchial asthma and cardiac asthma:

1). Cardiac asthma is the result of heart failure, while bronchial asthma is an immune response that causes long-term inflammation and irritation of the airways due to asthma triggers.

2). While both bronchial and cardiac asthma can cause shortness of breath, bronchial asthmatics typically experience increased breathing difficulty after vigorous exercise. Cardiac asthma patients typically experience symptoms with less strenuous exertion, including getting dressed or walking short distances, etc.

3). Cardiac asthma is most often diagnosed in elderly people, while bronchial asthma is most often diagnosed in children. Even so, it is possible for children to be diagnosed with cardiac asthma.

4). Cardiac asthma patients often experience swollen ankles (that worsens through the day).

5). Bronchial asthma patients may experience nighttime asthma trouble; however, patients who have cardiac asthma often wake up feeling breathless in the middle of the night. They may find sitting up helps them to breathe easier.

6). Bronchial asthma is typically treated long-term with inhaled medications that reduce airway swelling, while cardiac asthma is generally treated with supplemental oxygen, blood pressure medication, diuretics (water pills) to remove excess fluids in the lungs, and heart medications to help the heart to pump effectively.

Cardiac Asthma Often Misdiagnosed
Cardiac asthma is sometimes misdiagnosed as bronchial asthma; however, a proper diagnosis is necessary as cardiac asthma treatments different from bronchial asthma treatment. Some inhaled asthma medications could make cardiac asthma worse.

Cardiac asthma may be diagnosed with a chest x-ray, measurement of circulation time, an EKG, cardiac stress tests and other imaging methods (echocardiograms and CT scans).

Both cardiac asthma and bronchial asthma can be life-threatening conditions. If you experience breathing problems such as wheezing and/or coughing along with cyanosis (bluish tinged skin) then call and ambulance or head to the nearest emergency room as soon as possible. If you experience nighttime wheezing and coughing on a regular basis, be sure to make an appointment to see your doctor.

Don’t be afraid of the diagnosis; both cardiac asthma and bronchial asthma are treatable. The longer you wait to see your doctor, the more damage is done to your heart and lungs. An early diagnosis could save your life.

Please check out my new book Asthma’s Nothing to Wheeze At!

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You Should Also Read:
What is Asthma?
Understanding Asthma Signs & Symptoms
How Asthma is Diagnosed

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This content was written by Sherry Vacik. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Sherry Vacik for details.