Cardiologists located in The Woodlands, TX & Houston, TX
The inability to get a full breath is a frightening sensation that often accompanies various cardiac disorders. Fortunately, the cardiologists at AdvaCardio, in Houston and The Woodlands, Texas, can diagnose the condition that’s interfering with your breathing. Then they design a care plan aimed at relieving your symptoms as well as treating the underlying cause. Call AdvaCardio today for an appointment or use their convenient online scheduling service.
Shortness of Breath Q & A
What is shortness of breath?
Shortness of breath is identified in the medical world as dyspnea. It’s a very unpleasant sensation that causes you to feel as if you’re not getting enough air into your lungs. Sometimes, that’s exactly true. Respiratory disorders such as asthma cause air hunger by inflaming and narrowing the airways, making it difficult for you breathe normally.
What causes shortness of breath?
Dyspnea can occur temporarily in healthy people who engage in extreme physical activity. It’s also fairly common in travelers suddenly exposed to high altitudes where the oxygen is thinner. The extremely obese also suffer episodes of dyspnea that may be related to severe deconditioning.
But it’s most often related to lung or cardiac disorders and sometimes a combination of both. Cardiac causes of shortness of breath include:
- Excess fluid around the heart (cardiac tamponade)
- Heart failure
- Low blood pressure (hypotension)
- Heart attack
- Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure within the lungs' blood vessels)
- Swelling of the membrane surrounding the heart (pericarditis)
- Coronary artery disease
What are the symptoms of dyspnea associated with cardiac conditions?
The symptoms vary depending on the condition. Congestive heart failure symptoms, for example, may develop over time and cause you to:
- Experience shortness of breath that causes difficulty sleeping
- Sleep better when in a semi-upright position in a recliner rather than lying flat in bed
- Develop shortness of breath with even very mild exertion, such as getting dressed
- Be extremely fatigued and improve with rest
- Have persistent swelling in the ankles, feet, or legs
Heart arrhythmia can also cause shortness of breath, but the onset is typically sudden rather than the gradual worsening that often accompanies congestive heart failure. Typical heart attack symptoms often include shortness of breath, usually accompanied by other symptoms such as chest pain that radiates into your back or jaw.
Shortness of breath is related to numerous cardiac conditions, and the treatment for each issue varies. However, your cardiologist can help relieve your dyspnea by providing therapies such as supplemental oxygen to help you breathe better as you undergo evaluation.
Once the cause is identified, your AdvaCardio specialist may recommend medication to stall the effects of congestive heart failure, nonsurgical angioplasty, and stent placement to open blocked coronary arteries, or other appropriate cardiac interventions.