Not being able to catch your breath is a harrowing experience. Even if the feeling passes, being short of breath leaves you fearful of your life. And while trouble breathing and shortness of breath often are related to lung problems — or just being really out of shape, the issue is frequently related to your heart health. Don’t take these symptoms lightly! Whenever you experience new symptoms, especially when they come out of the blue, seek medical attention as soon as you can. When you visit the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center, you’re thoroughly evaluated for any cardiac-related conditions, and you can receive expert treatment from the best cardiologists in NYC.
Not being able to get enough air while taking a breath is a very disturbing feeling. It can make you feel like you’re suffocating. The medical term for shortness of breath is dyspnea, and it’s a symptom that you must not ignore because it may be a sign of serious cardiac or pulmonary problems. Untreated, these conditions can worsen quickly and become life-threatening.
When you come to the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center with difficulty breathing, you’re in the hands of the best cardiology team in the New York area. Your shortness of breath doctor evaluates you for any possible cardiac causes for your shortness of breath. If your dyspnea isn’t caused by cardiac problems, further evaluation needs to be done, possibly for pulmonary conditions.
Symptoms of Dyspnea
Dyspnea is characterized by being unable to catch your breath. Sensations commonly associated with this condition include:
- Tightness in your chest
- Labored breathing
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Heart palpitations
Difficulty breathing may hit you suddenly and without warning. Dyspnea can also become a long-term problem. If you experience trouble breathing on a regular basis, pay attention to when it happens, how often it happens and whether there are any triggers that cause your episodes of dyspnea. This history helps your doctor arrive at a firm diagnosis, especially when coupled with a thorough physical exam. If your breathing symptoms are sudden and severe, call 9-1-1, as you may need urgent medical attention.
Causes of Having Trouble Breathing
Difficulty breathing can have both cardiac and non-cardiac causes. Some heart-related causes of dyspnea include:
Non-cardiac causes of shortness of breath include:
- Pulmonary disease, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or pulmonary infections
- Airway obstruction
- Panic attacks
Effective shortness of breath treatments depend on obtaining an accurate diagnosis for your breathing difficulty. Your NYC cardiologist may order one or more of the following diagnostic tests:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG), which records the electrical activity of your heart and identifies any abnormal rhythms
- Echocardiogram, which uses ultrasound waves to produce a live, moving picture of your heart valves and your heart
- Stress test, which evaluates the effect of exercise on your breathing rate, heart rate and blood pressure
- Pulmonary function test that measures how well your lungs are working
- Chest x-rays, which produce images that allow your cardiology doctor to evaluate the health of your heart and lungs
- Blood tests that measure arterial blood gases and the oxygen saturation of your blood
How to Treat Shortness of Breath
Once your cardiologist in NYC has evaluated your test results, he’s able to determine the best dyspnea treatment for you. If breathing problems are caused by or aggravated by an infection, prescription-strength antibiotics can treat the infection. Pulmonary conditions may require medication or the use of supplemental oxygen.
If your trouble breathing is caused by heart problems, your Manhattan cardiologist may suggest one of several therapies. Certain heart conditions may improve with surgical intervention, such as repairing a heart valve or improving blood flow with coronary artery bypass surgery. Your cardiology doctor may recommend controlling your heart rhythm by using a pacemaker.
Self-Care and Lifestyle Changes for Shortness of Breath Treatment
Lifestyle changes can make a big difference in improving your overall health. These changes may also improve your shortness of breath symptoms. Recommended lifestyle changes include:
- Since obesity is one of the causes of dyspnea, losing weight can help you avoid shortness of breath issues and improve your overall health as well.
- Change your diet. Choose healthy foods whenever possible. Once you’ve been cleared of any major life-threatening conditions affecting your heart, your doctor can help you formulate a diet that fits with your symptoms, your lifestyle and your overall health.
- With your doctor’s approval, strive to increase your activity level. The recommended level for adults is about 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week.
- If you smoke, quit. It can reduce symptoms of heart and lung disease.
- Avoid breathing allergens and environmental toxins. Second-hand smoke is one thing, but poor work and living environments contribute to shortness of breath issues.
- Be sure to closely follow your doctor’s treatment plan, including regular evaluations of your heart or lung condition.
You may be able to return to your previous activity levels once you’ve made the necessary changes and have your symptoms under control. But once you’ve experienced shortness of breath related to your heart, it’s wise to maintain your relationship with your cardiologist who monitors your progress.
If you have shortness of breath treatment questions for the best in class Manhattan cardiologist or would like to schedule a consultation or appointment please feel free to contact Dr. Steven Reisman of the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center and indicate which Manhattan office (Upper East Side, Midtown Manhattan, or Wall Street / Financial District) you would like to see the cardiologist for a cardiac consultation.