Symptoms of Heart Disease You Shouldn’t Ignore


Heart disease symptoms vary based on what type of heart disease you suffer from. Learn to recognize the symptoms that may signal types of heart disease as the following and ask your doctor to find out what’s going on if you begin to experience new symptoms or if they become more frequent or severe.

A heart with a stethoscope

Symptoms of heart disease in your blood vessels (atherosclerotic disease)

Cardiovascular disease is an abnormal function of the heart, refers to conditions involving narrowed, blocked or stiffened blood vessels that make your heart, brain or other parts of your body unable to receive enough blood. Cardiovascular disease symptoms for men and women may be not the same. For example, men are more likely to have chest pain while women are somewhat more likely than men to experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea and extreme fatigue.

Symptoms can include:

  • Chest pain or angina
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in your legs or arms if the blood vessels in those parts of your body are narrowed
  • Pain in the shoulders, back, neck, jaw, or upper abdomen

Cardiovascular disease is not easy to be early diagnosed until patients have a heart attack, angina, stroke or heart failure. It’s crucial to watch for cardiovascular symptoms and explain concerns to your doctor to discuss treatment options. With regular exams, cardiovascular disease can be found early in some cases.

Heart disease symptoms caused by abnormal heartbeats (heart arrhythmias)

A heart arrhythmia is an abnormal or irregular heartbeat. Your heart may beat too quickly, too slowly or irregularly. Most noticeable heart arrhythmia symptoms can include:

  • Fluttering in your chest
  • Racing heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • Slow heartbeat (bradycardia)
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Fainting (syncope) or near fainting

Heart disease symptoms caused by heart defects

Serious congenital heart defects — can cause signs and symptoms, usually in newborns. These heart defect symptoms in children may include:

  • A bluish tint to the skin, fingernails, and lips (cyanosis)
  • Swelling in the legs, abdomen or areas around the eyes
  • In an infant, shortness of breath and poor feedings, leading to poor weight gain
  • Not being able to exercise

Patients with less serious congenital heart defects might not get symptoms until later in childhood or during adulthood. Signs and symptoms of congenital heart defects that usually aren’t immediately life-threatening include:

  • Easily getting short of breath during exercise or activity
  • Easily tiring during exercise or activity
  • Swelling in the hands, ankles or feet

Heart disease symptoms caused by weak heart muscle (dilated cardiomyopathy)

Cardiomyopathy is a serious condition that weakens your heart muscle and causes it to stretch, or dilate.  As a result, the heart cannot pump enough blood to the rest of the body. In early stages of cardiomyopathy, you may not have any symptoms. As the condition worsens, you may feel other symptoms, including:

  • Breathlessness with activity or at rest
  • Swelling in your legs, ankles and feet
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular heartbeats that feel rapid, pounding or fluttering
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness and fainting

Heart disease symptoms caused by heart infections

There are three types of heart infections:

  • Pericarditis, which affects the tissue surrounding the heart (pericardium)
  • Myocarditis, which affects the muscular middle layer of the walls of the heart (myocardium)
  • Endocarditis, which affects the inner membrane that separates the chambers and valves of the heart (endocardium)

Varying slightly with each type of infection, heart infection symptoms can include one or more of these:

  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Swelling in your legs or abdomen
  • Changes in your heart rhythm
  • Dry or persistent cough
  • Skin rashes or unusual spots

Heart disease symptoms caused by valvular heart disease

Your heart valves lie at the exit of each of your four heart chambers and maintain one-way blood flow through your heart. The four heart valves — the aortic, mitral, pulmonary and tricuspid valves — open and close to direct blood flow through your heart without backward leakage. Valves may be damaged by a number of conditions leading to narrowing (stenosis), leaking (valve regurgitation or insufficiency) or improper closing (prolapse).

Depending on which valve isn’t working properly, symptoms indicating valvular heart disease generally include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty catching breath
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Swelling in ankles, feet, or belly
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting (syncope)

If you have symptoms of any heart disease type, contact your doctor to have further diagnosis



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