Do you suddenly find yourself easily winded? Do the everyday activities that once left you feeling great now make you feel out of breath and exhausted? While everything from anemia to allergies can leave you dealing with dyspnea, or shortness of breath, certain heart conditions can also cause breathing trouble. Depending on the root cause, shortness of breath may come on suddenly or may appear slowly over time.
Heart conditions that may lead to shortness of breath include:
Tachycardia refers to a rapid heart rate above 100 beats per minute. This can often lead to breathlessness, especially in those with supraventricular tachycardia. This occurs when electrical signals in the heart don’t function properly. While often not dangerous, this condition can be unnerving. Our cardiologist can recommend simple lifestyle and dietary changes such as limiting or avoiding caffeine to reduce tachycardia episodes.
When fluid builds up in the lungs this can cause shortness of breath. Pulmonary edema is typically caused by a heart problem such as heart failure or a heart attack. When the heart cannot pump out blood efficiently, pressure builds up. This can cause fluid to back up into the lungs. You may notice trouble breathing or shortness of breath with activity or when lying down. Other signs of pulmonary edema include wheezing, coughing, or feeling like you’re drowning.
This type of heart disease makes it difficult for the heart to effectively pump blood out to the body. While you might not notice symptoms at first, shortness of breath is one of the earliest signs. Along with shortness of breath, you may also experience fainting, lightheadedness, dizziness, chest pain, and palpitations. Those with thyroid diseases, diabetes, or obesity are more at risk for developing cardiomyopathy.
This progressive heart condition occurs when the heart muscle can’t pump out enough blood to provide the body with what it needs. Despite the name, this doesn’t mean that the heart has stopped working. Early signs of heart failure include shortness of breath, ankle and leg swelling, and fatigue. At first, breathlessness may only occur with activities. As heart failure progresses you may notice trouble breathing when lying down.