Is that chest tightness and shortness of breath from exercise induced asthma OR is it angina, in which blood flow to the heart is reduced due to clogged arteries?

The symptoms of angina and exercise induced asthma have some overlap.

“Asthma symptoms typically include chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing,” says Jose C. Yataco, MD, pulmonologist and critical care specialist with the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL.

“While they can happen at rest, they are more frequent during exercise. The symptoms can resemble those of angina that also tend to be aggravated by exertion.

“However, asthma symptoms will typically be relieved by asthma inhalers, whereas angina will not.

“Moreover, angina is usually associated with other presenting symptoms like arm discomfort, lightheadedness, nausea or diaphoresis (excessive sweat). Angina is relieved by nitroglycerin.”

Angina that’s triggered by physical activity or exercise is called stable angina. When it occurs at rest, it’s called unstable angina. It can even occur during sleep and awaken the patient.

By definition, exercise induced asthma would occur only during some kind of physical exertion, and it is quickly relieved by using an inhaler.

Also keep in mind that EIA typically presents with a distinctive wheezing sound, and this is absent during a bout of angina.

If you suspect angina, ask your cardiologist about undergoing a cardiac stress test. You’ll want a complete cardiac workup, in fact.

If all is normal, your next destination should be to a pulmonologist to check for asthma. Chest pain tightness exercise