Feature Article

New-onset dyspnoea in the young adult: consider the serious causes

Feature Article

New-onset dyspnoea in the young adult: consider the serious causes

Rohan Jayasinghe, Dale Murdoch, Pathmanathan Sivakumaran

Abstract

It is prudent to consider potentially serious causes in a young adult patient presenting with insidious-onset dyspnoea. Such causes include heart failure due to cardiomyopathy and pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Key Points

  • Dyspnoea is a common symptom in young adults but is not a diagnosis.
  • In most cases, diagnosis of the cause of dyspnoea is made with history, clinical examination and simple investigations.
  • Consider serious diseases in a young patient presenting with insidious-onset dyspnoea and no obvious cause.
  • Heart failure due to cardiomyopathy and pulmonary arterial hypertension are diseases that occur in young, previously healthy individuals.
  • Baseline investigations include ECG, chest x-ray and blood tests.
  • Referral for echocardiogram and specialist opinion is essential for those in whom the cause is unclear.