Shortness of Breath

Here at Expert Cardiologist, we often learn that some of our patients experience shortness of breath in their day-to-day lives. It can be difficult to detect why this may be happening to you; understandably, this can cause some concern. Book an appointment today if you suffer from frequent shortness of breath.

What Is Shortness of Breath?

Shortness of breath, also commonly known as dyspnoea, is a symptom that can develop suddenly or gradually and is often present during exercise. However, when shortness of breath occurs walking uphill, tying shoelaces or climbing a set of stairs, it can be an early sign of a cardiac problem. 

When you are experiencing shortness of breath, your chest can feel tight and it feels like you are struggling to draw in a breath. It is a similar feeling that you may experience when you regularly exercise.

Please note that shortness of breath is usually not a cause for concern if it is exercise-related or strenuous activity-related. However, if it is regularly occurring outside of these activities, this could signify that you have a health issue, and you must consult with your doctor at your nearest convenience.

Shortness of Breath Causes

There is no one root cause related to shortness of breath. In fact, there are several causes that can stem from lifestyle choices like smoking, strenuous over-exercise, unhealthy dietary choices or being generally unfit. Some underlying health issues like anxiety or asthma can also play a part.

The cause of shortness of breath can also be related to a more severe health problem like heart failure or lung cancer, which is why a diagnosis is vital to help you get the treatment you need. Familiarise yourself with the list of possible causes below:

  • Asthma
  • Anxiety (leading to issues such as panic attacks)
  • Obesity
  • Chest infection 
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Lung disease

As well as the causes listed above, several heart-related conditions can cause shortness of breath. Serious health issues like these require medical attention, so avoid self-diagnosing and make an appointment with your GP if you have any concerns. Take a look at a list of heart-related causes below:

Shortness Of Breath Symptoms

There are many symptoms related to shortness of breath. You must familiarise yourself with them to help you reach a quick diagnosis. Please note that most of these symptoms will appear more noticeable after you have taken part in strenuous activity.

  • Tight sensation in the chest
  • Difficulty catching your breath
  • Feeling the need to breathe more often/more quickly
  • Feeling of suffocation
  • Difficulty taking a deep breath
  • Feel like you need to work hard to catch a breath

For more information, please read our article on 3 signs that shortness of breath could be serious.

How Do I Know If My Shortness Of Breath Is Heart-Related?

Sometimes shortness of breath may be heart-related and is often a symptom of heart-related conditions. This problem may be related to the pumping function of the cardiac valves and is usually called “heart failure”. In later stages of heart failure, people may experience breathlessness when lying flat on a bed and therefore use more than one pillow to sleep at night. Others may wake up suddenly in the middle of the night feeling that they cannot breathe and run to the window to get some air.

Heart failure may sometimes be related to a “weak” heart and can manifest as profound tiredness. If that is the case, you should seek a diagnosis from a cardiologist who offers a range of treatments. Take a look at the treatments we offer at Expert Cardiologist to see how we can help you.

Sometimes shortness of breath can lead to conditions like CAD, heart failure, heart arrhythmia, and many more severe health conditions. Therefore, if you suffer from shortness of breath paired with other symptoms like heart palpitations, chest pain, dizziness or loss of consciousness, you must seek medical assistance as soon as possible.

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Diagnosis For Shortness Of Breath

If you suffer from shortness of breath and have concerns, you must not hesitate to contact your GP at your nearest convenience. They will be able to refer you to a cardiologist if they feel it is necessary. If you know that your shortness of breath is heart-related, you should contact a cardiologist straight away. Below – is a list of the different heart tests for shortness of breath.

Electrocardiography (ECG)

A test that records the heart’s electrical activity.

Chest X-Ray

A form of medical imaging that shows doctors visual signs of conditions related to the heart or lungs.

Oxygen Test

This allows your doctor to measure how much oxygen is in your blood.

Blood Test

A small needle takes blood from your vein. The sample is sent to the lab for further testing.

Lung function test

Tests how well your lungs work, notifying your doctor if anything is blocking your airways.

Shortness Of Breath Treatment

The treatment for this condition will typically depend on the cause of your shortness of breath. Common treatments include medication designed to open the airways, pulmonary rehabilitation, and cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). There are also some treatments that you can try while at home. Take a look at some of our tips on how to relieve breathlessness below:

  • Sitting forward while seated (A table can support you if this helps)
  • Pursed-lip breathing
  • Diaphragmatic breathing
  • Sleeping in a relaxed position
  • Standing with a supported back or arms

If you suffer from shortness of breath and want to receive some guidance on treatment, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Expert Cardiologist today. We tailor your treatment plan to help you on your journey to better health, priding ourselves on giving you the high-quality service you deserve.

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