When to Seek Medical Care for Breathing Changes

Shortness of breath can have various causes, and some are quite serious. From asthma and exercise to anxiety and high altitudes, changes in breathing are typically a harmless way for your body to adapt to an increased demand for oxygen. 

In some cases, however, changes in breathing are a sign of heart trouble. So, when is your shortness of breath something to worry about?  

If you suspect heart trouble, rely on the esteemed expertise of board-certified cardiologist Ayim Djamson, MD, and the team at Metropolitan Cardiovascular Consultants to get to the root of the problem. We’ve gathered some helpful information about conditions that cause shortness of breath. 

Changes in breathing patterns

Doctors look at your heart, lungs, and circulatory system when looking into the cause of your shortness of breath. Breathing involves chemical and mechanical processes to deliver oxygen to every cell in your body.

Physical exertion is the most common reason why breathing patterns change in normal day-to-day life. Aerobic activities like climbing stairs or jogging increase breathing rate, while relaxing activities lower your breathing rate.

A problem with your lungs can cause abnormal breathing. Conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and interstitial lung disease cause shortness of breath. If your lung function is normal, your doctor may refer you to a cardiologist to take a look at your heart and circulatory system. 

Here we explain some of the cardiovascular conditions that can cause abnormal breathing. 

Coronary artery disease

Coronary artery disease (CAD) develops when the major blood vessels that supply oxygenated blood to the heart narrow or become damaged. 

Accumulation of cholesterol is the most common cause of CAD. The plaque buildup narrows coronary arteries and reduces blood flow. Chest pain (angina) and shortness of breath are typical signs of CAD. 

Heart failure

Heart failure occurs when the heart fails to pump enough blood. Because your body isn’t getting enough blood, fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath are common symptoms. 


The heart muscle can become abnormally thick, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood. This is known as cardiomyopathy. As with heart failure, the tissues aren’t getting enough blood, leading to chest pain and breathlessness.

Heart attack

A heart attack is a complete blockage of one or more of your coronary arteries. This is a medical emergency that accompanies other symptoms, including:

These are just a few conditions that affect your heart and circulatory system and commonly cause shortness of breath. 

Heart health check

Scheduling a visit with a cardiovascular physician is the first step toward receiving an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. Dr. Djamson is committed to providing top-quality, individualized care that effectively treats your condition.

Dr. Djamson discusses your medical history, evaluates your symptoms and gathers information about your shortness of breath, such as when it started. A full range of diagnostic testing is available to get to the bottom of your symptoms.

It’s wise to consult a cardiologist any time you experience shortness of breath that isn’t associated with physical exertion or an emotional trigger such as anxiety. Patients who visit us at Metropolitan Cardiovascular Consultants receive the highest-quality cardiovascular care. 

To get started, contact us to schedule a visit with Dr. Djamson. We have three offices in Beltsville, Bowie, and Columbia, Maryland. You can also send a message to Dr. Djamson and his team via our website. 

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