When is Shortness of Breath Something More Serious?

Shortness of breath that is caused by exercise or congestion is common and typically does not require a visit to the doctor. However, there are certain situations in which shortness of breath may be a sign of a serious underlying cardio condition. If your shortness of breath can be described by one or more of these following features, you should be evaluated as indicated:

  • Sudden and severe breathlessness that may or may not be accompanied by chest pain: Call 911 or have someone call on your behalf.
  • Accompanied by an inability to function: Call 911 or have someone you know transport you to a local hospital’s emergency room.
  • Accompanied by fainting or nausea: Call 911 or have someone you know transport you to a local hospital’s emergency room.
  • Experience wheezing or tightness in the throat: If it is mild, contact your physician’s office during business hours. If it is severe, call 911 or have someone transport you to a local hospital’s emergency room.
  • Accompanied by blue lips and fingertips: Go to urgent care or arrange for the soonest possible appointment with your physician. If you feel your breathlessness is getting in this situation, call 911 or have someone transport you to a local hospital’s emergency room.
  • Awakened from a sleep feeling breathless: Call for a primary care appointment so that you may be evaluated by your physician.
  • Accompanied by swollen feet or ankles: Seek the advice of your primary care physician at your earliest convenience.
  • Long-term repetitive episodes: Make an appointment with your physician at your earliest convenience. If you physician cannot identify a cause, create a log that notes the days and times of the episodes; the severity of the breathlessness on a scale of 1-10; any accompanying pain on a scale of 1-10; and any other symptoms you are experiencing when the breathlessness occurs. Once you have a log created, provide this information to your physician to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of your shortness of breath.

Los Angeles Cardiology

When you are experiencing bouts of shortness of breath, you should be thoroughly examined by an experienced physician trained to assess whether your symptoms are signaling a detrimental health condition. To ensure that you do not have an underlying heart or lung condition that has not been diagnosed, contact your physician or ask for a referral to a specialist to be certain you are receiving the highest level of care.


If you have been diagnosed with a heart condition or you are seeking medical advice from a highly trained cardiologist, please contact Beverly Hills Cardiology today at (310) 858-6500 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shervin Eshaghian M.D., one of the top-rated cardiologists in California.