Conditions & Symptoms
Shortness of Breath
Shortness of Breath Causes & Symptoms
Shortness of breath is a normal occurrence during certain events, such as intense exercise, extreme temperatures, and higher altitudes. It may also occur with obesity. When shortness of breath is sudden and severe, however, this could indicate a more serious problem that needs to be addressed.
Shortness of breath that comes on suddenly can indicate a number of cardiovascular conditions. Cardiac shortness of breath causes include:
- Heart Attack
- Heart Arrhythmia
- Heart Failure
Treatment for Heart Palpitations Shortness of Breath
Treating shortness of breath will involve addressing the underlying cause for it. When a heart condition is the reason for your shortness of breath, we have several treatment options we can pursue.
Treatments for heart conditions that cause shortness of breath include:
- Cardiac catheter ablation
- Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD)
- Coronary angioplasty
- Coronary bypass surgery
Your recovery time will depend on the treatment you undergo.
Cardiac catheter ablation is a minimally-invasive procedure. You should be able to resume most of your normal activities within a few days. Avoid heavy lifting or strenuous work for at least a week after the procedure.
Device implantation with a pacemaker or ICD may require an overnight stay so you can be observed. You will need to ease back into normal activities over the next several weeks, though we recommend avoiding strenuous activity in the month following the procedure. We offer device clinics to help you learn how to manage your new device.
After coronary angioplasty, you will remain in the recovery room for several hours. We'll ask you to drink plenty of water to flush the contrast dye from your system. You should be able to resume your normal activities after about a week.
Coronary bypass surgery is considered a major surgery and will likely require a hospital stay of around 8-12 days. During this time, you will be monitored closely for any signs of complications.
More on Shortness of Breath
Causes of Cardiac Shortness of Breath
A heart attack is a medical emergency that requires immediate intervention. Symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, discomfort or pain in the arms and shoulders, and feeling faint.
An arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, is an issue with your heart rhythm. Your heart may beat too fast, too slow, or irregularly, and it indicates a problem with your heart's electrical system. Symptoms can include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, and more.
Congestive heart failure develops when your heart muscle cannot pump blood as effectively as it should. A number of conditions can lead to heart failure, including coronary artery disease and heart valve disease. Symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath, fatigue, fainting, swelling, and more.
Other shortness of breath causes include cardiac arrest, pulmonary embolism, cardiomyopathy (problem with the heart muscle), and pericarditis (inflammation of the tissue around the heart).
Non-cardiac causes for shortness of breath include lung issues, asthma, anxiety, and more.
Treatments for Heart Conditions That Cause Shortness of Breath
- Cardiac catheter ablation: Using hot or cold energy, this procedure creates scars on heart tissue to prevent abnormal electrical signals from passing through your heart. This restores a normal heart rhythm.
- Pacemaker: These implantable devices help maintain a normal heart rate. Electrodes attached to your heart send electrical signals when a slow or irregular heartbeat is detected.
- Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD): ICDs deliver shocks to the heart when they detect a fatal rhythm, helping to prevent cardiac arrest. They are implanted under the skin.
- Coronary angioplasty: Using a balloon catheter to open up clogged arteries in the heart, this procedure widens the blood vessels so that good blood flow can be restored. We often place a wire-mesh, medication-releasing stent to prevent the artery from narrowing again.
- Coronary bypass surgery: Cases of severe heart disease with arrhythmia may require surgery. In bypass surgery, we use a blood vessel from another part of the body to create a new path for better blood flow in the heart.