ZocdocAnswersI have rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath and chest pain. Could it be asthma?

Question

I have rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath and chest pain. Could it be asthma?

I went to the doctor but they said its just stress. but I don't think so its been going on since I was about 16 and now I'm 19 .. and I have a history of asthma in my family..but I am trying to find another doctor.

Answer

I am sorry to hear about your doctor. It is difficult to provide an accurate diagnosis without a full, in-person evaluation, so I encourage you to see a primary care physician specializing in adult care. Several different conditions could explain your symptoms. Anxiety, particularly anxiety that triggers a panic attack, can cause similar symptoms. Patients often feel as if they "are going to die" during such symptoms. This is often a diagnosis of exclusion, however, and it is important to determine whether any cardiovascular or pulmonary conditions are causing your symptoms. As you mentioned, asthma can cause shortness of breath. In patients with asthma, inflammation and increased muscle contraction within your airways causes impaired air movement through your lungs. In addition to shortness of breath, patients can experience chest pain and a rapid heartbeat as the heart beats faster to make up for the impaired movement of oxygen from your lungs into your bloodstream. An evaluation of this typically involves spirometry, or specialized breathing tests that can often be performed in your doctor's office. It is also possible you are experiencing an arrhythmia, or abnormal heart rhythm. This can come on suddenly and quickly dissipate. Patients often experience palpitations along with shortness of breath and chest pain because the heart is beating too quickly to adequately fill between beats. In order to rule this out, you typically require a thorough history, physical exam, and EKG. Some patients require an exercise treadmill test or 24-hour EKG monitor to help evaluate for an arrhythmia. I encourage you to discuss these possibilities with a primary care physician to determine the next best step in your evaluation.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.