Feeling short of breath when there isn’t an obvious cause can be frightening, especially as it’s a symptom of serious cardiac issues like heart failure. Pankaj Lal, MD, at Capital Cardiac Care in Gaithersburg, Maryland, is a board-certified cardiologist who provides comprehensive exams to diagnose the cause of your shortness of breath, and offers effective treatment to improve your health and well-being. If you live in Montgomery County, call or schedule an appointment online today to get back to breathing properly.

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What is shortness of breath?

You may feel short of breath during exercise because your lungs are working hard. But when you feel short of breath for no discernable reason, it’s frightening and requires medical attention. You may feel like you’re not getting enough oxygen, or like you can’t breathe deeply. Shortness of breath can also cause a heavy feeling in your chest.

When shortness of breath is related to a cardiac issue, you experience the sensation while you’re at rest or even asleep. You may have difficulty breathing when you lay on your back and wake up feeling tired and anxious.

If you experience shortness of breath combined with severe chest pain, call 911 or go directly to the nearest emergency room.

What causes shortness of breath?

Shortness of breath is typically associated with conditions that affect the heart and lungs and prevent your body from getting the oxygen it needs to function properly. In fact, shortness of breath is a common sign of heart failure.

When shortness of breath is related to your heart, what often happens is that blood gets backed up in your pulmonary veins. This occurs when your heart can’t keep up with the supply of blood and causes fluid to leak into your lungs. Some other common heart-related causes of shortness of breath include heart attack or a condition called cardiac tamponade, which is the medical term for fluid around your heart.

How is the cause of shortness of breath diagnosed?

Dr. Lal provides a detailed cardiac consultation, including a physical exam, blood work, and a variety of diagnostic tests, to identify the cause of your shortness of breath. He asks questions about your symptoms and medical history, listens to your heart and lungs, and checks your blood pressure.

Dr. Lal orders tests to measure your heart function and to check for signs of damage to your heart and blood vessels, including:

  • Echocardiograms
  • Electrocardiograms (EKGs)
  • Physical stress tests
  • Nuclear stress testing

Once the cause of your shortness of breath is identified, Dr. Lal can create a customized treatment plan to improve your heart health and restore your well-being.If you or a loved one is experiencing shortness of breath, call or schedule an appointment online today. If you experience shortness of breath and chest pain at the same time, call 911 or go to the emergency room for medical attention.