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You are here -> Home -> Disease Info -> Disease Info - Respiratory -> Shortness of Breath (Dyspnoea)

Shortness of Breath (Dyspnoea)

Dyspnoea, or breathlessness can be due to problems with your lungs, or heart. There are often clues that suggest a respiratory cause in the history such as breathlessness that occurs with exercise, or an associated cough or wheeze.

Early assessment and treatment are vital. There are many simple investigations which can help determine the cause of breathlessness and its severity. Some of these are listed below and all are available at our Respiratory West rooms.

  • Spirometry with or without bronchodilator. This is a simple test of breathing that can be done at time of consultation

  • More complex lung function using a body plethysmograph

  • Measures of exercise capacity such as a six minute walk test

  • Aridol challenge to determine if asthma is present and / or safety to scuba dive

  • ECG and echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) either at rest or on exercise

  • Measurement of arterial blood gases to see how well the lungs are exchanging oxygen and removing carbon dioxide


Occasionally more complex procedures are required including a bronchoscopy (where we look down in the airways of the lungs with a special camera) or a coronary angiogram to look at the coronary arteries which supply blood to the heart muscle itself. These need to be performed in hospital but usually as a day procedure.

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Cambridge
Specialist Centre

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Wembley WA 6014
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