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Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Cardiology Symptoms

Question: Shortness of Breath When Waking Up In The Morning

 HotChi9103 - Sat Dec 16, 2006 8:54 am

Hi I am a 21 year old female. For the last couple of weeks I have been waking up in the morning and in the middle of the night with some shortness of breath and a fast heartbeat. Its not all of the time and lying down does not make it any worse. It usually subsides while I am lying there within a minute or two after waking. I have been diagnosed with panic attacks and a panic disorder.I am currently taking Ativan for that. I have gone to the ER and had many EKG's done and they always come back normal and lots of blood work and it also has all come back normal and they also say my heart sounds great. So I am wondering what this could be from. Thanks
 Dr. Safaa Mahmoud - Thu Dec 21, 2006 7:54 pm

User avatar Hello,

These symptoms could represent Panic attacks.
The symptoms of a Panic attack appear suddenly, without any apparent cause. They may include:
Racing or pounding heartbeat
Chest pains
Difficulty breathing
Tingling or numbness in the hands
Flushed Face and Chest

A Panic attack typically lasts for several minutes and is one of the most distressing conditions that a person can experience.

For more information visit our web site: ... /panic.htm

Exclusion of asthma and allergic conditions that causes brnochospasm should be done and give similar clinical picture.
For more information visit our web site:

Follow up with your doctor is essential.
Hope you find this information useful. Keep us updated.
Best regards,
 John Kenyon, CNA - Fri Dec 22, 2006 1:02 pm

User avatar Hello HotChi9103: Dr. Mahmood has given you a very excellent and thorough reply. I would only add that with Panic Disorder there is a problem that turns up probably more frequently than realized, known as nocturnal panic attacks. These are slightly more problematic because they often wake the subject from sleep and the subsequent, if brief, disorientation makes the experience more alarming (if that is possible) than a waking episode.

It sounds very much as though that's what you've been experiencing. This phenomenon is also, in some instances, accompanied by a related one known as sleep paryalysis, in which the patient wakes up but feels breathing to be extremely difficult and temporarily seems to be unable to move, then suddenly sits bolt upright, hyperventilating, and feeling as though something awful has just happened. These two together account for a very high number of ER visits in the US.

By all means follow Dr. Mahmood's excellent advice and the links provided. Also follow up with your personal physician, as these episodes can often be well-managed with fairly inoccuous medication if they are persistent and disrupt your life or your sleep.

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