What causes shortness of breath?
Shortness of breath can be caused by many reasons, obviously. In general, low oxygen levels are one thing, but not all patients have shortness of breath who have low oxygen levels. Stiff lungs due to fluid buildup, scarring, infections line pneumonia, they all can cause shortness of breath. If somebody's just not fit enough, and has a de-conditioning, they can have shortness of breath. So, there are many reasons, cardiac, that means the heart, the lungs, the general system and endurance conditioning. There are some other fancier, or less common causes, but in general these are the ones I just mentioned.
Is shortness of breath treatable?
Yes it surely is treatable. You want to treat the underlying problem. It's pretty much that you never treat shortness of breather per se, except in the case somebody is in the end stages of a disease, where we just want to treat the shortness of breath for comfort. But other than that, we try to treat the underlying disease process that is causing the shortness of breath rather than the shortness of breath itself.
Should I get a chest XRAY every year?
There is some benefit to having a chest XRAY every year for certain diseases, but in general, there's no point in a patient who smokes, or a patient who has possible lung problems for getting a chest XRAY routinely. The new information that we have as of earlier this year, is that patients who are at high risk for lung cancer like smokers, there could be a benefit for them having annual or frequent CAT scans for screening purposes. The short answer is that for screening, XRAY is not that useful, but CAT scans may be, but the final recommendations are now out there yet.