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Causes and Evaluation of Chronic Dyspnea - Article
ABSTRACT: Chronic dyspnea is shortness of breath that lasts more than one month. The perception of dyspnea varies based on behavioral and physiologic responses. Dyspnea that is greater than expected with the degree of exertion is a symptom of disease. Most cases of dyspnea result from asthma, heart failure and myocardial ischemia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, interstitial lung disease, pneumonia, or psychogenic disorders. The etiology of dyspnea is multifactorial in about one-third of patients. The clinical presentation alone is adequate to make a diagnosis in 66 percent of patients with dyspnea. Patients’ descriptions of the sensation of dyspnea may be helpful, but associated symptoms and risk factors, such as smoking, chemical exposures, and medication use, should also be considered. Examination findings (e.g., jugular venous distention, decreased breath sounds or wheezing, pleural rub, clubbing) may be helpful in making the diagnosis. Initial testing in patients with chronic dyspnea includes chest radiography, electrocardiography, spirometry, complete blood count, and basic metabolic panel. Measurement of brain natriuretic peptide levels may help exclude heart failure, and D-dimer testing may help rule out pulmonary emboli. Pulmonary function studies can be used to identify emphysema and interstitial lung diseases. Computed tomography of the chest is the most appropriate imaging study for diagnosing suspected pulmonary causes of chronic dyspnea. To diagnose pulmonary arterial hypertension or certain interstitial lung diseases, right heart catheterization or bronchoscopy may be needed.
ABSTRACT: Preoperative testing (e.g., chest radiography, electrocardiography, laboratory testing, urinalysis) is often performed before surgical procedures. These investigations can be helpful to stratify risk, direct anesthetic choices, and guide postoperative management, but often are obtained because of protocol rather than medical necessity. The decision to order preoperative tests should be guided by the patient’s clinical history, comorbidities, and physical examination findings. Patients with signs or symptoms of active cardiovascular disease should be evaluated with appropriate testing, regardless of their preoperative status. Electrocardiography is recommended for patients undergoing high-risk surgery and those undergoing intermediate-risk surgery who have additional risk factors. Patients undergoing low-risk surgery do not require electrocardiography. Chest radiography is reasonable for patients at risk of postoperative pulmonary complications if the results would change perioperative management. Preoperative urinalysis is recommended for patients undergoing invasive urologic procedures and those undergoing implantation of foreign material. Electrolyte and creatinine testing should be performed in patients with underlying chronic disease and those taking medications that predispose them to electrolyte abnormalities or renal failure. Random glucose testing should be performed in patients at high risk of undiagnosed diabetes mellitus. In patients with diagnosed diabetes, A1C testing is recommended only if the result would change perioperative management. A complete blood count is indicated for patients with diseases that increase the risk of anemia or patients in whom significant perioperative blood loss is anticipated. Coagulation studies are reserved for patients with a history of bleeding or medical conditions that predispose them to bleeding, and for those taking anticoagulants. Patients in their usual state of health who are undergoing cataract surgery do not require preoperative testing.