Lightheadedness and dizziness are common symptoms of many conditions, including heart and lung conditions.
What are the symptoms of lightheadedness/dizziness?
Lightheadedness can cause nausea, cloudy vision, and the feeling that you may faint. Dizziness is the sensation that the world is spinning around you or that you are spinning.
What heart conditions can cause lightheadedness/dizziness?
Lightheadedness/dizziness is not a disease in and of itself. It can be caused by another condition such as vertigo or another condition not related to the heart. For some, it’s a symptom of an underlying heart condition, such as:
- Aortic dissection
- Atrial fibrillation
- Cardiac arrest
- Cardiogenic shock
- Heart attack
- Heart murmur
- Heart palpitations
- Pulmonary embolism
- Shortness of breath
- Stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIAs)
How is lightheadedness/dizziness diagnosed?
Your doctor will give you a physical exam to evaluate your ability to walk and keep your balance. You may need hearing and balance tests to rule out vertigo and other balance disorders. If your doctor suspects a heart condition is causing your symptoms, you may be tested for the conditions listed above with several tests, including:
- Blood tests
- Computed tomography (CT) scan
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
- Tilt table testing
How is lightheadedness/dizziness treated?
Treatment for lightheadedness and dizziness will vary depending on what is causing it. You may need to make adjustments to your lifestyle, including changes to medications or diet and avoiding things that trigger your symptoms. If your doctor finds that an underlying condition such as arrhythmia (abnormal beating of the heart) is causing your symptoms, you may need an implanted pacemaker or a cardiac defibrillator. Other conditions that can cause fainting, such as a heart attack or an aortic dissection, require immediate medical attention.