On Call is a series where I present some interesting cases I saw in the course of my practice.
Case #1: A Young Woman with Fatigue and Shortness of breath
Mrs. S, is a very pleasant 35 yo young woman. She is married with two young children and is a school teacher by profession. She was referred to the hospital by her doctor for evaluation of new onset shortness of breath and concern of a serious heart condition.
When I interviewed her she told me the shortness of breath has been now ongoing for about a month and steadily getting worse. In the beginning she noticed she was unusually exhausted when she reached home from school and didn’t find the energy to prepare dinner and play with her kids (something she really loved to do). She also notes headaches, irritability of mood, difficulty concentrating which has been affecting her work as well as dizziness. She is also very concerned that she is losing hair. She denies that she is under much stress and says her family has just returned from a two week holiday. Unfortunately, she couldn’t enjoy herself very much because of how exhausted she felt.
Her symptoms have progressed to the extent that now she is out of breath when she walks up a short flight of stairs; she also notes a feeling of tightness across her chest. She also feels her heart racing and puffiness in her arms and legs. She is worried she has a serious heart condition especially since her father died of a heart attack in his 60s.
When I examined her I was struck by the pallor of her skin. I also noticed her tongue was swollen and her nails were thin and brittle and there was definite swelling around her ankles.
Her heart rate was regular but fast– 90-100 beats/minute, she had a normal blood pressure and oxygen level.