Shortness Of Breath

Heart & Vascular Institute -  - Interventional Cardiovascular Specialist

Heart & Vascular Institute

Interventional Cardiovascular Specialists serving Michigan

Not being able to get enough air is a very frightening experience, and it may develop from many causes, including conditions that affect the heart. The award-winning cardiology team at Heart & Vascular Institute offers advanced diagnostic testing to assess heart health and function and determine if your shortness of breath is related to a cardiac condition. To schedule an evaluation, contact the office in Wayne, Dearborn, Detroit, or Southfield, Michigan, by phone or through the online booking feature today.

Shortness of Breath Q & A

What is shortness of breath?

Shortness of breath, medically referred to as dyspnea, makes your breathing difficult or labored. Cardiac conditions are a common cause of shortness of breath and may include:

Dyspnea on exertion

Being short of breath during physical exertion is referred to as dyspnea on exertion. 

Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea

Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea refers to shortness of breath that occurs while you’re sleeping and wakes you up. 

What cardiac conditions cause shortness of breath?

Your heart plays a major role in carrying oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body. Conditions that affect your heart may interfere with this vital function and lead to shortness of breath.

Shortness of breath that comes on suddenly may be caused by:

  • A heart attack
  • Arrhythmia
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Pericarditis

Your shortness of breath may also be a symptom of cardiomyopathy, which can cause the heart muscle to enlarge, thicken, and become rigid. Over time, the changes in the muscle may lead to other heart problems such as an arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, or heart valve problems. 

What type of testing do I need for shortness of breath?

Heart & Vascular Institute is a full-service cardiology practice and performs a number of tests to assess heart health and function and diagnose cardiac conditions that cause shortness of breath. 

Some of the testing offered includes:

Stress tests

If you’re experiencing dyspnea on exertion, the cardiologists may perform a stress test to evaluate the function and structures of your heart when it’s working hard to pump blood throughout your body. The cardiology practice offers many types of stress tests, including the exercise stress test, nuclear stress test, and non-exercise nuclear stress test.  

The results of your stress test may help diagnose coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, or a heart valve disorder. 

Echocardiogram tests

An echocardiogram test uses ultrasound imaging that allows your cardiologist to see the movement of your heart muscle. A Doppler echocardiogram allows your cardiologist to measure the flow of blood through your heart and blood vessels. Your echocardiogram may help diagnose heart disease, heart valve disorder, or congenital heart defect. 


Bio-Z is a breakthrough medical test that assesses the strength of your heart’s pumping action and the amount of fluid in your chest, which may help diagnose congestive heart failure.

Microvolt T-wave alternans (MTWA)

MTWA is a test administered to patients at risk of having a heart attack, or those who have already had a heart attack, to determine if they’re at risk of developing an arrhythmia or other life-threatening problem. 

Shortness of breath is a common symptom of many cardiac conditions. For an accurate diagnosis, call Heart & Vascular Institute or book an appointment using the online tool.