Most cases of shortness of breath are due to heart or lung conditions. Your heart and lungs are involved in transporting oxygen to your tissues and removing carbon dioxide, and problems with either of these processes affect your breathing.

  1. Asthma
  2. Carbon monoxide poisoning
  3. Cardiac tamponade
  4. Heart attack
  5. Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  6. Pulmonary embolism
  7. Pneumonia
  8. Pneumothorax
  9. Upper airway obstruction

Heart problems

  1. Cardiomyopathy
  2. Heart arrhythmias
  3. Heart failure
  4. Pericarditis

Other problems

  1. Anemia
  2. Broken ribs
  3. Choking
  4. Epiglottitis
  5. Foreign object inhaled
  6. Generalized anxiety disorder
  7. Guillain-Barre syndrome
  8. Myasthenia gravis

In the case of chronic shortness of breath, the condition is most often due to:

  1. Asthma
  2. COPD — Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  3. Heart dysfunction
  4. Interstitial lung disease
  5. Obesity

A number of other health conditions also can make it hard to get enough air. These include:

Lung problems

  1. Croup
  2. Lung cancer
  3. Pleurisy
  4. Pulmonary edema
  5. Pulmonary fibrosis
  6. Pulmonary hypertension
  7. Sarcoidosis
  8. Tuberculosis

Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.

Apr. 13, 2013