Lives at risk as heart failure is often misdiagnosed as ASTHMA, experts warn

HEART failure patients' lives could be at risk as doctors mistake their symptoms for asthma.

The signs your ticker could be on its last legs are very similar to that of an asthma attack, experts warned.

Yet, there are subtle differences – something too few doctors are failing to pick up on.

Heart failure, which can be fatal if its untreated, is on the rise – with more young people falling victim.

Hundreds of thousands at risk

In the UK, more than 100,000 people are rushed to hospital each year due to heart attacks and over 900,000 people in the UK are currently living with heart failure.

A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that more people are dying from heart failure – particularly in the under-65s.

Misdiagnoses are common, due to the fact that the symptoms of heart failure are similar to asthma.

Dr Maya Barghash, a cardiologist at Mount Sinai in New York, told the New York Post: "Heart failure can be a fatal condition if it's not treated."

She said while the symptoms are similar to asthma, there are key differences doctors – and the public – should be aware of.

The wheezing you experience with asthma is more common during the day, Dr Barghash said. Often it's triggered by the weather or exercise.

But with heart failure, the wheezing is more common at night, while you're lying down.

Symptoms of heart failure

  • shortness of breath (particularly when you lie down)
  • fatigue and weakness
  • swelling in the legs, ankles and feet
  • rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • persistent cough or wheezing
  • bringing up white or pink phelgm

Symptoms of asthma

  • coughing (particularly at night, during exercise or when laughing)
  • difficulty breathing
  • chest tightening
  • shortness of breath
  • wheezing

Last year, 11-year-old Sophia Sanchez, from Illinois, USA, received a diagnosis of asthma, but soon grew so sick that she couldn’t sleep without being propped up, or breathe without an oxygen tank.

The New York Post reported that eventually, doctors did more tests and learned that Sophia’s heart was pumping at only 12 per cent effectiveness and would fail completely if she didn’t get a heart transplant.

After seven weeks – one week after rap star Drake surprised her in her hospital room – she received a new heart and recovered the ability to breathe normally again.

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