If it appears abruptly, don’t dismiss it. Chest discomfort is a common indicator of heart disease, but it’s not the only one. Shortness of breath—which might seem like you’re pushing yourself more than usual—can indicate heart valve problems, heart attack, heart failure, and other cardiovascular disorders.
Dyspnea—shortness of breath—has several definitions: You may experience suffocation, “air hunger,” or strong chest constriction.
What Types Of Heart Problems Cause Shortness Of Breath?
Heart Valve Disease
Four valves of the heart direct blood flow throughout the body. According to the US National Library of Medicine, blood flow may be affected by faulty valves.
Heart valve abnormalities usually occur in two ways: Hal Skopicki, MD, Ph.D., head of cardiology and co-director of the Stony Brook Heart Institute in New York, tells SELF that one or more valves stiffen and fail to open or seal. Blood may pool against the lungs and cause shortness of breath when valves malfunction. This strains the heart and may lead to heart failure, in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to essential organs.
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Heart Muscle Problems
Dr. Skopicki notes that when the heart muscle has trouble ejecting blood forward, it may induce shortness of breath. Cardiomyopathy, which thickens, weakens, or stiffens the heart muscle, may impair blood pumping. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease, endocrine illnesses, alcoholism, viral infections, and some chemotherapy and radiation may cause heart muscle difficulties (CDC).
Some healthy pregnant women develop cardiomyopathy. Stacy Rosen, MD, cardiologist and vice president of women’s health at North Shore-LIJ Health System’s Katz Institute for Women’s Health, tells SELF, “It’s critical to not simply think that breathlessness is typical during pregnancy.” Dr. Rosen believes pregnancy might reveal preexisting cardiac abnormalities.
Issues With The Heart’s Electrical System
Electrical signals govern heartbeats. According to the Mayo Clinic, these signals may malfunction and cause the heart to beat erratically (arrhythmia), rapidly (tachycardia), or slowly (bradycardia) without warning. An irregular heartbeat might be unnoticed. Dr. Skopicki says it sometimes causes shortness of breath.
Blockages In The Arteries
Coronary artery disease, also known as coronary heart disease or ischemia disease, occurs when the main blood channels that provide oxygen-rich blood to your body cannot supply enough blood, oxygen, and nutrients to your heart. The CDC says it’s America’s most prevalent cardiac disease.
When Does Shortness Of Breath Signal A Potential Heart Problem?
Shortness of breath from cardiovascular disorders may occur abruptly or gradually. Some signs might indicate cardiac trouble: