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September 11, 1926


JAMA. 1926;87(11):809-813. doi:10.1001/jama.1926.02680110009003

Cardiac asthma may be defined as a paroxysmal dyspnea, developing suddenly while the patient is at rest, accompanied by a sense of suffocation and occurring in organic heart disease. The attacks of dyspnea are often associated with definite signs of acute cardiac weakness.

The term cardiac asthma has unfortunately sometimes been used as a synonym for the ordinary dyspnea of cardiac failure and sometimes for Cheyne-Stokes breathing. Objection was made by Sir Clifford Allbutt1 to the employment of the term asthma for the attacks under consideration. "Asthma," he says, "is not a cardiac affection at all, and is not to be confounded with affairs primarily of the heart or circulation." He preferred the designation paroxysmal dyspnea of high blood pressure for the disease or symptom complex. The Greek word asthma, however, was used in the Iliad in the sense of an oppression, and, as thoracic oppression is a characteristic