Heart and lung issues are the most common causes of shortness of breath. When you breathe, your heart and lungs are responsible for transporting oxygen throughout your body and removing carbon dioxide.
If you’re experiencing shortness of breath, it’s wise to have your heart and lung health checked. If your primary care provider rules out lung problems, visiting a cardiovascular physician is often the next step.
Dr. Majed Chane leads the team at CA Heart and Vein Specialists. As a board-certified cardiovascular physician, Dr. Chane can perform a comprehensive heart health evaluation to determine if a problem with your heart is behind your shortness of breath.
In this post, we discuss three of the most common cardiovascular issues that cause shortness of breath.
Heart failure is the inability of the heart muscle to pump blood as efficiently as it should. When this occurs, blood backs up and fluid can accumulate in your lungs, resulting in shortness of breath.
Certain cardiac conditions, including coronary artery disease (CAD) and high blood pressure, can weaken the heart, preventing it from pumping blood effectively.
Appropriate treatment can alleviate the symptoms of heart failure. Changes in lifestyle — such as weight loss, exercise, a low-sodium diet, and stress management — can enhance your quality of life. If you have heart failure, long-term management is crucial.
Preventing and controlling factors that increase your risk of heart failure — for example, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity — reduces your chances of developing heart failure.
Cardiomyopathy is a heart muscle disorder that makes it difficult for your heart to pump blood throughout your body. There are numerous causes and kinds of cardiomyopathy, including diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, excessive alcohol consumption, and cancer treatment.
Initially, you may not notice any symptoms of cardiomyopathy. However, as the condition progresses, you could experience shortness of breath, which may be pronounced during activity.
People with cardiomyopathy may also encounter shortness of breath at rest. You might notice swelling in your legs, ankles, and feet as well.
Heart valve diseases
The heart has four valves that keep blood flowing in one direction between chambers. If the valves fail to open properly or are leaking, the heart's function can become inefficient. Heart valve diseases commonly cause shortness of breath.
Two primary issues are at play:
Valve leakage: When the valve doesn’t close entirely, blood flows in the opposite direction. This decreases forward blood flow and can lead to heart volume overload.
Valve narrowing: When a valve's opening narrows, it restricts blood flow from the ventricles or atria. The heart must pump harder to transport blood past the narrow valve.
Heart valves can simultaneously develop narrowing and leakage. Additionally, multiple cardiac valves can be impacted at the same time.
When heart valves fail to open and close properly, it can significantly impair your heart's ability to pump sufficient blood throughout the body. Heart failure can be caused by abnormalities with the heart's valves.
A thorough diagnostic workup is necessary to get to the root of your shortness of breath. To schedule a visit with Dr. Chane for a cardiovascular evaluation, call our office in Huntington Beach, California, or request an appointment online today.