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Shortness of Breath

Cardiology, Cardiac Electrophysiologists, General Cardiology, Cardiology, Cardiologists & Cardiologist to Women's Health & Cardiology located in Lanham, Bowie, Camp Springs, Largo and Laurel, MD
Shortness of Breath

Shortness of Breath services offered in Lanham, Bowie, Camp Springs, Largo and Laurel, MD

In healthy people, shortness of breath results from exertion or other non-medical causes, but it can also be a sign of heart and/or lung disease. If you experience shortness of breath for no obvious reason, visit Capitol Cardiology Associates. At offices in Lanham, Bowie, Camp Springs, Silver Spring, Laurel, and Largo, Maryland, the board-certified physicians use advanced diagnostics and treatments to identify and resolve the cause of shortness of breath. For help from the heart health experts at Capitol Cardiology Associates, call your nearest office today or schedule a consultation using the online form.

Shortness of Breath Q & A

What is shortness of breath?

Shortness of breath (dyspnea) is the feeling that you can’t draw enough air into your lungs. You might feel as though your chest is tightening so your lungs can’t expand. Or that the air you take in isn’t replenishing the oxygen in your lungs.

These problems can cause an extremely stressful, suffocating feeling; however, panic just makes shortness of breath worse.

If you’ve been exercising vigorously, being short of breath is normal even when you’re perfectly healthy. You can also experience a similar feeling in an excessively hot or cold climate or high altitude.

Shortness of breath is more concerning when it happens in the course of daily life.

What causes shortness of breath?

Shortness of breath is often a symptom of asthma, a lung disease that causes your airways to become inflamed and narrowed. Severe allergic reactions can also cause shortness of breath.

Being a smoker and carrying excess body weight can make it difficult for your cardiovascular system to deliver enough oxygen and make you feel short of breath. Heart and lung disorders are another common cause of shortness of breath. These include:

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Heart attacks
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • Cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease)
  • Pericarditis (inflammation of the heart sac)
  • Cardiac tamponade (fluid buildup)
  • Pneumonia (lung infection)
  • Pneumothorax (collapsed lung)
  • Pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung)

Many of these disorders are potentially life-threatening, so it’s vital to consult experts like those at Capitol Cardiology Associates if you develop shortness of breath without an apparent cause.

How is shortness of breath diagnosed?

Your Capitol Cardiology Associates provider begins the diagnostic process by reviewing your medical and family history and completing a physical exam. They may also want you to undergo tests, such as:

Electrocardiogram (EKG)

An EKG records the electrical activity that regulates your heartbeat.


An echocardiogram is a heart ultrasound scan that creates moving images of your heart’s internal structures and how it beats.

Stress testing

Stress testing can detect heart problems that don’t appear on an EKG or echocardiogram. It also reveals how your heart functions when it works hard. 

Typically, you exercise on a treadmill or stationary bicycle while your Capitol Cardiology Associates provider records your heart’s activity using an EKG or echocardiogram.

Nuclear stress testing is similar, but you have an injection of radioactive material before the test that provides even clearer details of your heart function.

Other diagnostic options include a cardiac PET scan and electrophysiology.

To find the cause of your shortness of breath and get the best treatment, call Capitol Cardiology Associates today or book an appointment online.