The genesis of breathlessness: what do we understand?

Jeremy B. Richards and Richard M. Schwartzstein

in Supportive Care in Respiratory Disease

Second edition

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199591763
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739149 | DOI:

Series: Supportive Care Series

The genesis of breathlessness: what do we understand?

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This chapter reviews the physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms that contribute to the sensation of breathlessness. The goal is to improve understanding of the processes and signals that cause this symptom so that the practising physician will be able to apply these principles when evaluating and treating a patient who complains of shortness of breath. Dyspnoea or breathlessness is defined as ‘breathing discomfort’. The case of Ms Smith, a seventy-two-year-old former smoker with end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is considered throughout the chapter and relevant physiological processes are framed in the context of her clinical course.

Keywords: pathophysiological mechanisms; breathing; shortness of breath; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Chapter.  8608 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Palliative Medicine

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