short of breath and totally exhausted after exerting myself
Hi all . . . my first post!
As I’m writing this I’m having another bad start to the day and really need some help with my situation as not one doctor or specialist I’ve seen so far has been able to help me in any way . . .apart from telling me my heart is not the cause of my problems.
I’m a 60 year old male, BMI just slightly above what is recommended, always been active and have no history of heart problems in my family. For the past two years or so I’ve been finding myself increasingly short of breath after having exerted myself physically. It started with my feeling breathless, nauseous and physically exhausted after I’d had a really hard day doing physical activity (such as gardening or major work on a house renovation). Increasingly over the past two years I find that the level of activity it takes to make me feel really unwell has decreased to the point that now, if I just spend an hour doing gentle physical work, or even taking a walk, I’m totally exhausted. Breathlessness, feeling like I may vomit, a feeling of heaviness all over my chest area, fatigue, stiffness in my shoulders and neck are now normal for me after exerting myself only mildly.
But the thing I can’t understand is why I often feel fine when I’m actually in the process of doing the work or during a walk, and sometimes for the rest of the day, but feel total exhaustion the day after? It often takes me two or three days before I feel well again and my energy levels are back to normal.
I’ve seen my own doctor many times and each time he’s always told me my heart is in good condition. Not totally convinced I asked him to refer me to a cardiologist and a lung specialist. I was tested and told my lungs are fine and show no reason for my shortness of breath. I had an echocardiogram and the cardiologist found that I have both “very insignificant” aortal and mitral regurgitation. I had a stress test done (cycling) and a 24 hour holter test. Both of these, he said, showed nothing which would cause my problems. He said I don’t need to have my heart checked again for at least three years. My own doctor said that if he were to pick 100 men off the street, 50 of them would have the same sort of mitral and aortic valve issues and that it is definitely not a problem. The lung specialist said the same.
So, if I listen to the experts, I shouldn’t be writing on this forum at all. But, when I read about the symptoms that many people with heart problems have, I have to wonder if my experts have got it right.
I don’t know if it may be a part of my problem but if, during the night, I’ve strayed and slept on my left-hand side, for even a few minutes, I start to feel unwell. It’s as if I’m “bunching up” my shoulders and chest together and in some way restricting my lung capacity (difficult to explain). But then I immediately find it difficult to breathe and start to feel sick. By then, no matter what I do, I can’t get rid of that feeling and it’s with me for the rest of the day, along with the exhaustion, total exhaustion, and stiff neck and shoulders. I know sleeping in a bad position can cause neck and shoulder pain but I can’t see it causing shortness of breath and total exhaustion for at least a day after. I also know that patients with heart failure often can’t sleep on their left-hand side because it makes them feel unwell. Could this be a regurgitation thing?
So I’m not convinced by my doctors that my heart is OK. I hope they’re right. But what should I do now? I can’t keep on like this because I don’t know what I should or shouldn’t do to make my days normal again. I don’t know how to manage this on a daily basis and my doctors, after two years, have not helped me. Has anyone on this forum had the same symptoms? Can anyone make any suggestions? Thanks in advance anyway.
Hi, I really feel for you having all this frustration. I have to say that it doesn't sound heart related. I say this because the heart is obviously the pump oxygenating your body and you would notice the problems when you are needing the oxygen, not the next day. It almost sounds like there is something amiss with your diet, like you burn up all your energy in day one, then day two there is nothing to use. If regurgitation was the issue, it would be a dynamic thing, making you suffer every time you exert yourself. Have they done a lot of blood chemistry on you, to see if you are lacking anything related to energy? Probably sounds silly, but believe me, it's often best to start with the simple things. When we use energy, the first thing we burn are our carbs. These are fast acting. If we run out of carbs, we feel fatigued and the slower process of burning fat takes over. Unless we replenish those carbs we can feel very lethargic and get short of breath quite quick. This is why athletes pack their bodies with carbs. If they did events using just fat, then I could probably beat them on a long run :)
I saw an interview with the world cycling champion recently and he was asked his secret for getting so much energy. Many athletes drink sugary drinks, but he said jam sandwiches are his secret. He eats a few a couple of hours before cycling.
I have to agree, this does not sound heart related. I know it's frustrating when you don't have answers you need and seek but I would not look for answers with your heart. Those symptoms are not typical (the timing of them) with heart related illnesses. I truly hope you find some answers and good luck!
Thanks for that and, I must say, for putting another very interesting possibility forward. I've never thought that diet and carbs may be part of the problem and I don't really know how I should investigate it. I've had many blood tests done over the past few years and my doctors have always told me I'm within range in all areas, apart from B12 a year ago. I'd read about B12 deficiency and insisted my doctor tested me and had also to convince him to prescribe injections. My B12 levels are fine now but I've often felt that my body's "lacking something" mineral or vitamin-wise that's affecting my energy levels.
Do you have any more information or knowledge about the best way to use carbs in relation to improving energy levels?
It isn't just about carbs, it's about getting a healthy balanced diet. For example, the trend at the moment is people go to the gym, feel lethargic, so they swig down an energy drink. These are full of very rich sugar and give a boost for about an hour. However, your body will mass produce insulin to remove the sugar and store it in the body, such as the liver. Lots of insulin is not good over long periods of time. Diet has become a huge science, and it has become very apparent how complicated it can be. There are many factors such as the right level of fat, the right level of protein, the right level of carbohydrates etc, and on top of that, we are supposed to keep our body as alkaline as possible, acidic is not good. You can spend a whole lifetime studying such things and still not learn it all. Personally, I think the body is pretty good at breaking down what we eat and will take what it needs. We simply have to pour in the good stuff. From what I can gather, and the route I have taken, is to eat good alkaline foods. These include..peas, artichokes, asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli
cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, garlic, green beans, kale, lettuce, onion, spinach, watercress, turnips, red radish, limes, lemons, tomatoes, avocado(good for protein), olive oil, flax seed oil, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pumpkin/sunflower/flax/sesame/fennel seeds. I keep sweet fruits such as oranges and melons etc to a minimum, lots of sugar feeds yeast which produce toxins. I also eat as much as possible in a raw state rather than cook it, but obviously I wash it. Those I can't stand raw, I cook for a short time only. I eat meat in moderation, trying to keep to fresh oily fish and steam it.
Foods I avoid... chicken, pork, beef, (just don't trust the chemicals put into the livestock these days), dairy products (again, I don't trust the chemicals) but I do have a tiny drop of milk in my green tea. Black tea I avoid and any drinks with added sugars.
Changing diet can be an absolute nightmare to say the least. We have come so accustomed to the processed rubbish on the shelves for convenience. I sit and prepare my meals every day now and it has become habit. I used to eat microwave tv dinners a lot, no wonder I ended up with heart disease. If I feel like a snack, I will just munch on some vegetables or fruit. Another thing to realise is that half the population don't drink enough water. They are continually thirsty from all the salt/sugar hidden in processed foods which dehydrates them even more. I drink bottled water. The tap water in the UK is full of chlorine which is basically a bleach.
The reason I changed my diet is because my heart disease was not improving with medication, even the magic statins. I was having 2 stents on average a year. I've had no more stents for 2 years now, and no symptoms. I still have a blood pressure issue, but I know my parents had this, so it could be a hereditary thing. Changing diet had me feeling terrible for a few days, I was craving chocolate and my stomach was really playing up. It was like everything I ate was in a real hurry to get back out. However, after a few days it all settled down and I started to feel much better in myself. I can get up in the morning now, jump out of bed and get on with life. Before I would lay there thinking "oh not another day, I can't handle this". Everything seemed like hard work. My energy levels hold up for the whole day too, not just a few hours. I'm not an expert on diet, but I think I'm getting there in knowing what my body needs. I NEVER take supplements.
Hope this gives you some ideas, and I really wish you luck.
HI there from an overweight out of shape 56 year old female. Was working in the garden this afternoon, which isn't something I do regularly. Enjoyed it, but felt awful after - sore, stiff, and heart pounding. Had 2 hot baths, one hot shower and took 2 regular strength Advil. Then took the cat and laid on the bed for a while. Feel better now but thought I might be going to have a heart attack. Your postings are reassuring - my diet is awful even though I know the things I should be eating. So, will have some more water, and some baked organic chicken and some veggies for supper and make a huge effort to get the junk out of my diet. Thanks for the help that you didn't even know you were giving !!!! Even though there is heart disease in my immediate family, I only felt crummy after I stopped working and came in and sat down so guess it's just my body telling me it's not happy and likely not a heart attack in the making.
I'm pleased to hear you are going to change your lifestyle. There's a very old saying that your body will only feel as good as what you put into it. If you feed it with rubbish, it will feel rubbish. I wish you lots of luck, but I'm sure you will feel the benefits and stick with it due to that.
sorry to hear of your problems,mine are very simliar ackually,athough for some reason i do suffer from a tired heart and on 3 beta-blockers per day.
having said that though i am quite a stressful person and tend to let things get to me,so over the years it has exhusted my adrenal glands,upset my blood sugar levels,which in turn upsets the heart,im just wondering if you have a simliar problem,because i can keep quite busy,but then feel the effects either later on in the day or totally washed out the following day.
my body cant make up the energy quick enough
what helps me though is i now have herbal medicines and also monthly accupuncture to keep energy levels up and it really has made a difference for me.and like you all my drs reports come back ok,but i wasnt ok.
hope this helps you in some way. Best wishes Wendy
I hope you're feeling better as it's a year later now but if not please have a look at Dr Myhill's website (just Google) because you could have chronic fatigue syndrome which brings on delayed fatigue (so you can feel fine while exerting yourself) and very interestingly it is sometimes termed 'heart failure secondary to mitochondrial malfunction'. Hope this helps
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