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The Link Between Shortness of Breath and Your Heart Health

The Link Between Shortness of Breath and Your Heart Health

You go out for a run and come back winded, gasping for air. Or, you simply walk from one room to another and you’re breathless. These two examples of shortness of breath are vastly different, and the second of the two might signal a serious heart-related issue.

To help you discern when your shortness of breath may be related to your heart health, cardiologist Dr. James Kim and our team pulled together the following information on this potentially worrisome symptom.

The most common causes of shortness of breath

There are typically three common underlying issues when it comes to shortness of breath:

  1. Overexertion and exercise
  2. Problems in your lungs
  3. Cardiovascular conditions

Outside of these three areas, you may also experience shortness of breath due to mental health problems, such as anxiety or panic attacks.

Since our practice is devoted to cardiovascular health, we’re going to focus on the heart-related conditions that can cause shortness of breath.

Sign of a heart attack

We’re going to start with the most serious heart-related condition that can cause shortness of breath — a heart attack. 

There are many different signs of a heart attack and, further complicating matters, men and women can experience heart attacks a bit differently.

That said, the most common signs of a heart attack include:

If you suddenly experience shortness of breath that’s accompanied by any of these symptoms, please dial 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

Ongoing issues with shortness of breath

If you’re experiencing ongoing problems with shortness of breath, and the simple act of walking a flight of stairs leaves you panting for air, this could be a sign of congestive heart failure. 

This disease renders your heart unable to keep up with the demands of your body, and it’s often accompanied by swelling in your legs and/or abdomen, a persistent cough, and a racing heart rate.

As congestive heart failure advances, you may experience the shortness of breath at all times, even when you lie down.

Another heart-related issue that can lead to shortness of breath is pulmonary edema. If your heart isn’t pushing out blood as it should, pressure in your heart can lead to a problem in your lungs, a buildup of fluid that fills the air sacs.

Lastly, cardiomyopathy, a disease that affects your heart muscle, can also cause shortness of breath. This condition often causes other symptoms, such as swelling in your legs, dizziness, and heart palpitations.

The bottom line is that shortness of breath is one symptom you should never ignore, especially if it’s unrelated to exercise.

If you’re experiencing shortness of breath and you suspect it may be related to your cardiovascular health, contact one of our offices in Chula Vista or National City, California, so we can promptly diagnose and treat the issue.

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