What’s Causing Your Shortness of Breath?

Shortness of breath can be a scary symptom. Like pain, it can indicate various underlying issues; in many cases, shortness of breath is a symptom of a heart or lung condition.

Your heart and lungs are tasked with the job of transporting oxygen throughout the body. A problem with this process can affect breathing. It’s important to discuss any breathing difficulty with a health care provider, especially if you have other troublesome symptoms.

Dr. Majed Chane and his team at CA Heart and Vein Specialists offer comprehensive evaluation and treatment for heart conditions that range in complexity. We treat breathing difficulties seriously and guide patients toward getting to the bottom of their symptoms. Here are some conditions that could be causing your shortness of breath.

Heart valve disease

When it comes to heart disease — including heart valve issues — it’s crucial to know that some people experience no symptoms. When symptoms arise, we find that shortness of breath is often one of them. Other heart valve disease symptoms include: 

Heart valve disease happens if one or more of your heart valves don’t work as they should. The heart has four valves that keep blood moving in the right direction. The valves open and close to let blood flow through the heart. With each heartbeat, the flaps of the heart valves make sure blood flows through the four chambers, and to the rest of your body, in the proper direction. 

We see three problems with the heart valves in patients with heart valve disease:

Regurgitation

When valves don’t close tightly enough, blood leaks back into the chamber instead of flowing through the heart. This is known as regurgitation, and it happens most often when the flaps of the valve flop back into the upper heart chamber when your heartbeats.

Stenosis

Stenosis occurs when the flaps of the valve become thick or stiff. When this happens, the heart valve is unable to fully open, reducing blood flow through your heart. 

Atresia

In people with atresia, the heart valve lacks an opening for blood to pass through. In some people, this issue is present from birth, called congenital heart disease. Other people may develop atresia later in life.

Having symptoms of heart valve disease isn’t an indication that your condition is severe. Some people with symptoms have mild heart valve disease, while others without symptoms may have severe issues. That’s why it’s crucial to see Dr. Chane for a comprehensive evaluation.

Heart failure

Heart failure is another problem with the heart that commonly causes symptoms such as shortness of breath. Having heart failure doesn’t mean your heart will suddenly stop working. It means your heart muscle doesn’t pump blood throughout your body as well as it should. 

If you have heart failure, you may notice:

Many conditions can cause heart failure, most commonly coronary artery disease, which affects the arteries that supply blood to your heart. In people with CAD, the blood vessels become narrow and stiff, affecting blood flow.

Controlling factors like high blood pressure and making lifestyle changes, such as getting more exercise and reducing sodium intake, can help manage heart failure. 

Cardiomyopathy

In people with cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle becomes thick, stiff, or enlarged. There are various types of cardiomyopathy. The three most common are:

Over time, cardiomyopathy causes the heart muscle to become weaker, making it less able to pump blood throughout your body. As such, shortness of breath is a common symptom.

Not everyone with cardiomyopathy has symptoms or needs treatment. Sometimes, heart-healthy lifestyle changes can improve symptoms. When treatment is necessary, medication, nonsurgical, and surgical procedures are available.

Dr. Chane provides the highest quality heart care to patients throughout Southern California. Scheduling a checkup is the best way to know how well your heart functions. Call our Huntington Beach, California, office at 657-206-8630 to schedule an appointment, or book here online using our convenient scheduling tool.

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