Heart Problems That Can Cause Shortness of Breath

Heart Problems That Can Cause Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath, medically referred to as dyspnea, can be a frightening experience. While it can be the result of various factors, such as lung conditions, allergies, or anxiety, one of the primary concerns is heart problems.

Understanding the different heart-related causes of shortness of breath may help you seek timely treatment and prevent life-threatening situations.

That’s why Dr. Mark L. Meyer at Madison Avenue Cardiovascular in midtown Manhattan, New York, is happy to provide information you can use to stay aware of conditions that may affect your heart health.

Read Dr. Meyer’s insight regarding some of the heart-related problems that can lead to shortness of breath.

Coronary artery disease (CAD)

CAD is the most common type of heart disease. It occurs when the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle, become narrow or blocked. This can reduce the amount of oxygenated blood reaching the heart, leading to symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath.

Heart failure

Contrary to what its name suggests, heart failure doesn't mean the heart has completely stopped working. Instead, it means the heart isn’t pumping blood as effectively as it should. 

This inefficiency can result in fluid buildup in the lungs, leading to shortness of breath, especially when lying flat.


This is a disease of the heart muscle itself. The muscle can become thickened, enlarged, or rigid, making it harder for the heart to pump blood effectively. This can lead to symptoms like fatigue, swelling in the ankles and feet, and shortness of breath.


Arrhythmias are irregular heartbeats that can affect heart function. Some types of arrhythmia can result in the heart not pumping enough blood out to the body, causing shortness of breath, dizziness, or fainting.

Heart valve disease

The heart has four valves that ensure blood flows in the correct direction. If any of these valves don’t open or close properly due to valvular heart disease like stenosis or regurgitation, it can disrupt the blood flow and lead to symptoms like shortness of breath.


Pericarditis is inflammation of the thin sac surrounding the heart (pericardium). Inflammation can cause chest pain and shortness of breath, especially when you’re lying down.

Pulmonary hypertension

While pulmonary hypertension primarily affects the lungs, it is closely related to your heart health. It involves high blood pressure in the arteries that supply the lungs. 

This causes the heart's right side to work harder to pump blood through the arteries, leading to heart failure and associated shortness of breath.

Congenital heart defects

Congenital heart defects are present at birth and can interfere with heart function. Some can lead to shortness of breath by affecting the heart's efficiency in pumping blood or due to the mixing of oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood.

Shortness of breath is a symptom that you should never ignore, especially if other symptoms like chest pain, fatigue, or fainting accompany it. Early detection and intervention often mean better treatment outcomes and prevention of further heart-related complications.

Schedule a visit with Dr. Meyer at Madison Avenue Cardiovascular today. Call our office or request an appointment online.

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