If you find yourself not being able to breathe very well—gasping or huffing and puffing on slight exertion or on lying down—your doctor can go down a number of different routes to find out what the problem is. Since I know from personal experience they don’t necessarily go down the right road, even when they keep reaching dead ends on the ones they do pursue, this could be a good thing for you to know yourself.
If you already know you have heart trouble, your doc will probably look down that route first. And now there’s a way for even your internist to tell if your troubled breathing might be due to congestive heart failure rather than to a respiratory or other issue. A simple blood test for BNP (B-type natriuretic peptide) can tell whether you have much higher levels than someone who’s breathing trouble is lung- or other-related. Any doctor can read the test–doesn’t have to be a cardiologist. And even happier, the BNP test can be done quickly–as in emergency room speed–so docs can treat for the right thing right away.
Earlier treatment can vastly improve quality of life and potentially extend a patient’s lifespan. It can also mean savings in treatment costs over the course of the condition. So it’s good news for hospitals as well as for patients.
Well, I guess it’s never too early to learn the truth if docs can give you medications to ease the symptoms. Plus, it gives you more time to decide if there’s anything you want to get done before your number’s up.