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Age-associated breathlessness 

Age-associated breathlessness
Chapter:
Age-associated breathlessness
Author(s):

Chang Won Won

and Sunyoung Kim

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198701590.003.0146
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date: 18 October 2019

Breathlessness in older adults is a common symptom of cardiovascular, respiratory diseases, psychological disorders such as panic disorder, and respiratory muscle weakness, but this symptom is also prevalent during daily activities as a result of age-related changes. With ageing, physical fitness, the strength of respiratory muscles and elastic recoil of the small airways all decline, and, as a result, breathing becomes more difficult and gas exchange less efficient. Differentiation between cardiac and pulmonary cause of dyspneoa is very important and sometimes difficult. In acutely breathless elderly patients, an elevated level of brain natriuretic peptide is a sensitive and specific marker for the presence of ventricular failure. Once a diagnosis is made, the reversible factors contributing to the breathlessness should be corrected as far as possible, and the initial focus should be on optimizing treatment of the patient’s underlying disease, followed by reducing the impact of breathless on everyday activities and quality of life.

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