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Dyspnea (also known as shortness of breath) is a common occurrence that many people experience at least once in their life. Patients with dyspnea report difficulty breathing with exertion and sometimes report a feeling of suffocation. The frequency of occurrence varies with patients. Some experience this once, while others have periods of recurrence.

In healthy individuals, dyspnea can happen with strenuous exercise, extreme temperatures, high altitudes or obesity. In others, shortness of breath is a symptom of a heart or lung condition, such as: congestive heart failure, pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary embolism, cardiomyopathy, heart arrhythmia, heart attack, asthma and COPD.