It’s a scary feeling experiencing shortness of breath, whatever the reason. Because there are many heart-related reasons why you might have shortness of breath, it’s important to see an expert like board-certified cardiology and interventional cardiology specialists Rakesh Sahni, MD, and Sheila Sahni, MD, of Sahni Heart Center in Clark, Fords, Red Bank, and City of Orange, New Jersey. They can find out the cause of your shortness of breath and get you on the best treatment. Make an appointment over the phone today, or you can also use the online booking form for Sahni Heart Center’s Clark, New Jersey, office.

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What is shortness of breath?

Shortness of breath simply means feeling that you can’t get enough air into your lungs. You may also describe it as:

  • Chest tightening
  • Air hunger
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Breathlessness
  • Feeling of suffocation

The medical term for shortness of breath is dyspnea. If you’re feeling short of breath, it can be hard not to panic, but that only makes the problem worse.

Healthy people can suffer from shortness of breath if they exercise vigorously, or are breathing at high altitudes or in extreme temperatures. Or you might have a condition like asthma that makes you feel short of breath during an attack.

You might also have shortness of breath if you’re overweight or obese, or you’re a smoker. These problems both affect your heart and lungs, reducing their ability to transfer oxygen around your body.

If you don’t know why you’re experiencing shortness of breath, it could be due to an underlying medical problem.

What are the medical causes of shortness of breath?

In most cases, shortness of breath relates to your heart or lungs. These organs transport oxygen around your body and remove carbon dioxide. If you have acute shortness of breath, it could be due to:

  • Cardiac tamponade
  • Heart attack
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Heart failure
  • Pneumonia
  • Pneumothorax
  • Pulmonary embolism

These conditions all require immediate medical attention, so if you have sudden shortness of breath, it’s always best to get it checked out.

If your shortness of breath is more of a chronic condition, there are numerous lung disorders that can cause the problem. It can also be a sign of heart disease or dysfunction, such as:

  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Heart failure
  • Pericarditis

Dr. Sahni can find out what’s causing your shortness of breath by running some diagnostic tests.

How is shortness of breath diagnosed?

Dr. Sahni can diagnose the problem using tests such as:

Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)

An EKG is a noninvasive test that records electrical activity inside your heart.


An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to create pictures of the size and shape of your heart and the internal structures.

Stress testing

You need to exercise on a treadmill while Dr. Sahni monitors your heart’s activity using an EKG machine.

Nuclear stress testing

Similar to stress testing, but nuclear stress testing uses a radioactive dye to highlight areas of the heart at rest and while you exercise.

If you have shortness of breath, find out why by calling Sahni Heart Center today, or you can choose to book online for the Clark, New Jersey, office.