Cardiologist Questions Breathlessness

Can anemia cause shortness of breath?

I had a recent blood test which indicated low hemoglobin levels, putting me in the anemic category. I am also experiencing shortness of breath after exercise or intensive activity. Are the two connected?

6 Answers

Absolutely. Anemia can produce shortness of breath since it makes your heart to work harder. However, shortness of breath can happen for many reasons, and usually, cardiac or lung causes would need to be investigated.
Anemia may very well contribute to shortness of breath.
Depends on the severity of the anemia. The heart responds to the body's demand for oxygen, which is carried by the hemoglobin in the blood, by substantially increasing work load. The heart workload may even increase three to four fold. Heart rate, “pulse rate,” is usually fast in the presence of anemia. Shortness of breath develops easily because the heart function's reserve is being utilized. Only so much hemoglobin is available for basic needs. Any physical effort needs extra blood to carry oxygen. With lack of extra blood, shortness of breath will occur.
Yes, anaemia makes the blood less able to carry oxygen to your muscles so they have to "make do" with less and to do this they produce lactic acid which causes you to feel breathless. But there are several other causes of breathlessness so you should reassess the situation once the anaemia has been successfully treated. Most breathless symptoms can be improved by deliberately slowing your breathing.
Yes, depending on the hemoglobin level. The underlying issue is the cause of the anemia. See your doctor for a complete work up.
It depends on how anemic you are. Hg 10 should not cause sob, but hg of 5 or 6 will. They should look for other causes of shortness of breath if you are not severely anemic, such as coronary artery disease.