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What causes shortness of breath after climbing stairs?

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Posted on Wed, 23 Jul 2014
Question: 63 year old male - 6"1" - 225#. No history of heart problems
My pulse has dropped to between 40 - 45 beat per minute. I seem to be out of breath after climbing a flight of stairs. I also sweat profusely with limited physical activity. I'm not on any prescription medication. My last BP was 133/66
I've been feeling this way for the last 2 weeks. Called my family doctor, but his office is closed until July 7
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Answered by Dr. Kerry Pottinger (2 hours later)
Brief Answer:
Need to see a doctor.

Detailed Answer:
Hi,
Thank you for using Healthcare Magic. From the details you have provided, I think your heart rate is inappropriately slow. This is why you are short of breath and sweating. Although you have not attended your doctor for 3 years which would suggest you have been healthy, I think it is a possibility that you have an arrhythmia as a cause for your slow heart rate. It would be impossible to diagnose the problem without cardiology investigations. You are clearly symptomatic at present. As you cannot see your family doctor until the 7th, I feel that you need to either go to the ED or see a cardiologist in the next 24 to 48 hours.
There are a few possible causes I am considering. These would be atrial fibrillation, heart block or sick sinus syndrome. All these would need an ECG at least in order to confirm.
In the meantime, until you see a doctor, rest and do not try any excessive physical activity.
I hope this is of help. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Regards,
DDR K A Pottinger,
MBChB. FRCA
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. Kerry Pottinger

Pain Medicine & Palliative Care Specialist

Practicing since :1983

Answered : 1337 Questions

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What causes shortness of breath after climbing stairs?

Brief Answer: Need to see a doctor. Detailed Answer: Hi, Thank you for using Healthcare Magic. From the details you have provided, I think your heart rate is inappropriately slow. This is why you are short of breath and sweating. Although you have not attended your doctor for 3 years which would suggest you have been healthy, I think it is a possibility that you have an arrhythmia as a cause for your slow heart rate. It would be impossible to diagnose the problem without cardiology investigations. You are clearly symptomatic at present. As you cannot see your family doctor until the 7th, I feel that you need to either go to the ED or see a cardiologist in the next 24 to 48 hours. There are a few possible causes I am considering. These would be atrial fibrillation, heart block or sick sinus syndrome. All these would need an ECG at least in order to confirm. In the meantime, until you see a doctor, rest and do not try any excessive physical activity. I hope this is of help. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Regards, DDR K A Pottinger, MBChB. FRCA