What Shortness of Breath Says About Your Heart Health

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What Shortness of Breath Says About Your Heart Health

Feeling out of breath is a common condition that everyone feels from time to time. It’s usually not a problem unless it’s a chronic sensation that comes on with minimal exertion. Shortness of breath could indicate that you have a heart problem.

Your heart and lungs work together to collect and deliver the oxygen your body needs. The out-of-breath sensation occurs when the oxygen supply falls short of the body’s demand. It’s a normal response to exercise, hard work, or other forms of exertion. 

Without that exertion, breathing should be normal and easy. When you’re chronically out of breath, and there’s no obvious reason, you may have a lung issue, like asthma, or you might have a problem with heart health that interferes with the normal oxygen cycle. 

Diagnosis and treatment of shortness of breath is a specialty for us at ARK Cardiovascular & Arrhythmia Center, particularly regarding heart-related conditions. Contact us when breathing becomes a concern. 

It’s more than chest pain

While chest pain is one of the more commonly known symptoms of heart trouble, shortness of breath can also be a sign of cardiac issues. Breathing difficulties result from many causes other than those involving the heart. It’s natural to consider the lungs when it feels like you aren’t getting enough air.

Yet, there are cardiac patients for whom shortness of breath is the primary symptom. They don’t experience the chest pain that may direct them to suspect heart problems. There are, however, heart conditions that directly influence your breathing. 


A problem with the heart that interferes with pumping efficiency, cardiomyopathy has several types and causes, including cancer treatment, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and obesity. As the condition develops, you’ll feel out of breath more often until you can become breathless even when you’re resting. 

Other symptoms include edema (swelling) in your ankles, feet, and legs. Cardiomyopathy may cause heart pain and arrhythmia, a racing, irregular heartbeat. It can also cause you to cough when you’re lying down. 

Congestive heart failure

Rather than indicating your heart stops, congestive heart failure means your heart fails to meet the needs of your body for oxygen. Symptoms are similar to those of cardiomyopathy. You’ll first feel tired and breathless more easily after exertion. Without treatment, the condition worsens, and your shortness of breath becomes chronic. 

Pulmonary edema

Fluid buildup in your lungs can make it harder to breathe. Pulmonary edema occurs when the heart can’t pump all of the blood it receives from the lungs. The resulting backflow pressure forces fluid into the air sacs of the lungs. Unlike other heart conditions, pulmonary edema can come on quickly or slowly. 


There are different forms of tachycardia, defined by rapid heart rates of over 100 beats per minute. Atrial tachycardia happens when the electrical signals controlling your heartbeat become scrambled. Sometimes triggered by caffeine or alcohol, when shortness of breath accompanies atrial tachycardia, you need immediate medical care. 

Contact the nearest location of ARK Cardiovascular & Arrhythmia Center by phone or online to schedule a consultation. Don’t ignore your shortness of breath. Your heart conditions are manageable. Visit us soon.