Shortness of breath can be a warning sign of any of a wide array of heart diseases. Shortness of breath should always be evaluated by a board certified cardiologist, like the expert team at Chinatown Cardiology, with locations in the Chinatown section of New York City and Brooklyn and Flushing, New York.
What type of heart problems can a shortness of breath indicate?
A shortness of breath can be caused by issues ranging from lung disease to anxiety. However, in many cases it is a red flag of a heart problem. In fact, shortness of breath is on the list of symptoms for just about every type of heart disease or condition, including:
Coronary heart disease
A heart attack
Heart arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation
Heart valve disease
When should shortness of breath be evaluated by a cardiologist?
If your shortness of breath is severe or frequent, or is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, you should be checked out by a cardiologist:
Severe pressure, squeezing, pain or discomfort in the chest
Pain or discomfort that spreads into the shoulders, neck, arms, or jaw
Chest pain that isn’t relieved by rest
Nausea or vomiting
Dizziness or fainting
Unexplained weakness or fatigue
Low blood pressure
You have a family or personal history of heart disease
How is the cause of shortness of breath diagnosed?
Our experienced doctors have access to the latest effective diagnostic tools and equipment to help them determine the best course of treatment for every patient. These tests include:
An electrocardiogram (EKG). This is a quick and easy non-invasive procedure that uses electrodes placed on the chest, arms, and legs to interpret electrical activity of the heart. Each heartbeat is accompanied by an electrical signal that spreads from the top of the heart to the bottom. As the signal travels, it causes the heart to contract and pump blood. EKG recordings give the doctor information about how your heart is working; including: heart rate, regularity of heartbeats, size and position of the chambers of the heart, presence of any damage to the heart, and effects of drugs or devices used to regulate the heart. Certain congenitally, or acquired abnormal electrical pathways may cause arrhythmia.
Holter monitor (ambulatory electrocardiography device). This is a portable device for continuous monitoring of electrical activity of the cardiovascular system over a period of 12 or 48 hours. The extended recording is useful for observing occasional cardiac arrhythmias that are difficult to identify on an electrocardiogram or for recording certain abnormalities that only occur during certain activities like sleeping or physical activities.
An echocardiogram. This is a simple diagnostic procedure that uses sound waves (echoes) to produce images of your heart to reflect the size and shape of the heart, pumping capacity, and location and extent of any tissue damage.
Stress tests. A stress test measures how your heart performs under different levels of stress. Making your heart work harder makes it easier for your doctor to diagnose problems. At Chinatown Cardiology, heart stimulation is either provided by exercising on a treadmill or injection of intravenous vasodilators.The latter is used when medical problems prevent a person from being able to complete the necessary exercise; this is called a pharmacologic stress test.