Nothing is more frightening than the sensation of not being able to take in enough air. Though shortness of breath may develop from many causes, it may be a symptom of a cardiovascular condition. Maryland Cardiology Associates in Greenbelt, Maryland, offers a comprehensive cardiac exam that includes advanced diagnostic testing to confirm or rule out a heart or vascular problem that might explain your shortness of breath. For expert care, call or book an appointment online today.

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What is shortness of breath?

Shortness of breath, medically known as dyspnea, is a sensation that you can’t take in enough air. With shortness of breath, you may feel tightness in your chest or have a hard time breathing.

What causes shortness of breath?

Shortness of breath may develop from any number of causes. In many cases, the distressing symptom occurs from a benign cause, such as an intense aerobic workout or change in temperature.

However, shortness of breath is also a common symptom of lung and heart problems. More serious causes of shortness of breath include:

  • Heart attack
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Arrhythmia
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Respiratory infection (e.g., COVID-19, pneumonia)

Maryland Cardiology Associates considers shortness of breath a serious symptom. They recommend you schedule an evaluation if you have other symptoms that indicate a heart or vascular problem, such as chest pain, dizziness, leg pain, or leg swelling.

What happens during an evaluation for shortness of breath?

Maryland Cardiology Associates is a state-of-the-art facility. When you come in for an evaluation for shortness of breath, your cardiologist conducts a comprehensive cardiac exam.

During the three-stage exam, which includes observation, palpation, and auscultation, your cardiologist may run various diagnostic tests to confirm or rule out a cardiovascular condition that explains your symptoms. Testing may include:

Electrocardiogram (EKG)

An EKG is a noninvasive test that assesses the electrical activity in your heart.

Stress testing

Stress testing assesses how well your heart works during exertion. Maryland Cardiology Associates performs stress testing to diagnose coronary artery disease and arrhythmias.

Nuclear testing

Nuclear testing assesses blood flow through your heart to evaluate pumping and look for blockages or damage.


An echocardiogram is an ultrasound test that evaluates the structure and function of your heart.


QuantaFlo is a noninvasive test that diagnoses peripheral artery disease.

Transcranial doppler scan and carotid doppler

A transcranial doppler scan evaluates the circulation of blood in your brain, while the carotid doppler assesses blood flow through your carotid arteries (main arteries to your brain).

Upper and lower arterial duplex scan

During an upper and lower arterial duplex scan, your cardiologist evaluates your peripheral arteries to look for aneurysms, plaque, and stiffening.

Abdominal aortic ultrasound

The abdominal aortic ultrasound evaluates your aorta, which is the main artery from your heart that supplies oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body.

Venous duplex scan

The venous duplex scan is an ultrasound test that evaluates circulation through your veins.

For comprehensive testing for shortness of breath, call Maryland Cardiology Associates, or book an appointment online today.