Breathlessness: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Learn why breathlessness or shortness of breath happens, why it can cause heart palpitations and how to get your symptoms investigated for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. 

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What is breathlessness?

Breathlessness (also known as dyspnea or shortness of breath  refers to the feeling of discomfort or difficulty in breathing. It’s like having the sensation that you can’t catch your breath or take a deep breath. This is normal from over-exertion or exercise, but if you’re experiencing breathlessness without doing any physical activity, it’s strongly advised you get this investigated as it could be a sign of heart disease. 

What are the causes of breathlessness?

There are many causes of breathlessness, ranging from physical deconditioning and the presence of obesity to more significant causes, such as:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Pulmonary Embolism
  • Anaemia
  • Asthma
  • Anxiety

Any reason that impairs your blood delivering oxygen to your body’s tissues can cause breathlessness

If the problem is in your heart and it can’t deliver enough blood to the body, the condition is known as:

  • Heart Failure (HF)
  • Congestive Cardiac Failure (CCF)
  • Left Ventricular Failure


How is breathlessness investigated?

  • You’ll be asked about the possible causes of breathlessness, including smoking and asthma. 
  • You’ll be examined and need tests, including blood tests to rule out anaemia, an ECG and an Echocardiogram to exclude heart problems. 
  • Lung function tests to assess your respiratory function and a chest x-ray may be recommended.

Most of these tests can be done on the day of your consultation, so a management plan can be made quickly for peace of mind.

Chest x-ray and echocardiography help diagnose the cause of breathlessness.


What are the available treatments?

Your treatment plan depends on your diagnosis.  If we diagnose you with a cardiac-related condition, you’ll get the best heart treatment plan from the UK’s leading cardiologists so you can stop worrying and start enjoying life again. For non-heart-related conditions, we’ll write back to your GP or refer you to a pulmonologist so you can get the treatment you need.

Get seen quickly

As we’re a private clinic, your appointments work around you. You’ll soon have the answers you need so you can get the answers you need, start a proper treatment plan and get the quality of your life back.



A breathless investigation is covered by most private medical insurance policies, but please contact your insurance company prior to your appointment to obtain your pre-authorisation code to speed things up.


Our price list is available on request and is on display in our waiting area. For an estimation of costs please get in touch.


Why choose London Cardiovascular Clinic?

  • We offer a patient-centred approach, so you’ll feel looked after and have all your questions answered 
  • Choose from our flexible appointment times and get seen at your convenience
  • Personalised treatment plans
  • Get consultancy & treatment from London’s top cardiologists – each with their own special interests
  • You’ll experience a much more welcoming and relaxing experience at our private clinic than you would elsewhere
  • Video resources to help you further understand your condition and the procedures involved


Ready to book your test?

Either give us a call, e-mail or fill out our simple contact form to arrange your consultation with London’s top cardiologist specialists.


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