Breathlessness background

Causes of Chronic Breathlessness

  • Over 2/3 of breathlessness is caused by cardiorespiratory disease 1
  • 50% of breathlessness in adults over 40 years old is caused by heart failure, COPD, obesity, anaemia, anxiety or depression
  • The cause of breathlessness is multifactorial in about a third of patients 4
  • Breathlessness SNOMED code >8 wks 870535009
  • Heart failure
  • Angina / Ischaemic Heart Disease
  • Valvular Heart Disease
  • Cardiac Arrhythmias
  • COPD
  • Asthma
  • Interstitial lung disease
  • Breathing pattern disorder
  • Lung Cancer
  • Pulmonary Vascular Disease
  • Obesity
  • Physical deconditioning
  • Anaemia
  • Long Covid
  • Age 18+ Years
  • Ongoing breathlessness >8 weeks
  • On optimal disease management
  • Investigations to consider:- Pulse Oximetry; ECG; CXR; FBC; Lung Function Tests; BNP; ECHO; Other imaging: TFT’s, Biochemistry, Iron studies
  • Assess Impact of breathlessness symptoms on functional ability and quality of life

Disclaimer (SPAGG - Rewrite)

This Guide is intended for use by healthcare professionals and the expectation is that they will use clinical judgement, medical, and nursing knowledge in applying the general principles and recommendations contained within. They are not meant to replace the many available texts on the subject of palliative care.

Some of the management strategies describe the use of drugs outside their licensed indications. They are, however, established and accepted good practice. Please refer to the current BNF for further guidance.

While WMPCPS takes every care to compile accurate information , we cannot guarantee its correctness and completeness and it is subject to change. We do not accept responsibility for any loss, damage or expense resulting from the use of this information.