- With Mayo Clinic cardiologist
Martha Grogan, M.D.read biographyclose window
Martha Grogan, M.D.Martha Grogan, M.D.
Dr. Martha Grogan is board-certified in internal medicine and cardiovascular diseases. She is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, and received her medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School. Dr. Grogan has been on staff at Mayo Clinic since 1995 and is a consultant in the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases and is an assistant professor of medicine at Mayo Medical School.
Dr. Grogan is a noninvasive cardiologist specializing in heart failure, adult congenital heart disease and echocardiography. She has witnessed firsthand the importance of patient education in the treatment of diseases such as congestive heart failure and is excited about the tremendous educational opportunities now available through the Internet.
Cardiac asthma: What causes it?
What is cardiac asthma?
from Martha Grogan, M.D.
Cardiac asthma is not a form of asthma. It's a type of coughing or wheezing that's a symptom of heart failure. Depending on how severe your symptoms are, this wheezing can be a medical emergency.
As a result of heart failure, fluid can build up in the lungs (pulmonary edema) and in and around your airways. This causes signs and symptoms — such as shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing — that may mimic asthma. Asthma is a chronic condition caused by inflammation of the airways, which can narrow them, leading to breathing difficulties. True asthma has nothing to do with fluid in the lungs or heart disease.
The distinction is important because treatments for asthma and heart failure are different. Treatments for heart failure, including medications, can help improve your symptoms for both the heart failure and the cardiac asthma. Overusing treatments for true asthma, such as rescue inhalers, may actually worsen cardiac asthma and could cause dangerous heart rhythms.
- Jorge S, et al. Cardiac asthma in elderly patients: Incidence, clinical presentation and outcome. BMC Cardiovascular Disorders. 2007;7:16.
- Heart Failure. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Hf/HF_All.html. Accessed Dec. 28, 2010.