You've been experiencing shortness of breath or the sensation that your heart is racing or skipping a beat. Maybe you're having a hard time sleeping, or you've had one or more dizzy spells. You might even have passed out for no apparent reason. Or you experience chest pain, especially during or after exercise.
Because any one or more of these symptoms could point to heart disease, it's important to talk with your doctor right away. Based on your symptoms, your doctor can evaluate you and determine how best to treat you.
Heart disease can take a number of different forms and can affect people differently, so it's important to know the types of heart problems that can occur and their symptoms.
These are the most common heart problems and the symptoms people frequently experience:
- Abnormal heart rhythm: This is one of the most dangerous conditions because an abnormal heart rate can increase your risk of stroke. You feel like your heart is racing or skipping beats. You experience dizziness or even pass out.
- Heart blockage: You complain about a tightness in your chest, shortness of breath and fatigue after any kind of exertion, whether it's a strenuous workout or working in the garden. Other symptoms include left arm or chest pain.
- Congestive heart failure: If you're retaining water or have swelling in your feet, you may be experiencing symptoms of congestive heart failure. You may complain of an inability to lie flat at bedtime, shortness of breath when you exercise, and unnecessary or unusual weight gain.
- Peripheral vascular disease: This condition has a number of symptoms related to the legs and feet. If you experience pain in your legs when you walk or have soreness in your calves, you may have peripheral vascular disease. Common symptoms of this disease include the sensation of cold feet and/or poor circulation. This disease also can cause a discoloration in your feet and/or the inability for a wound to heal.
- Carotid artery disease: Most of the symptoms of carotid artery disease are those associated with transient ischemic attack (TIAs or mini strokes) in which the blood flow to the brain is interrupted for a short period of time. Other signs include stroke-like symptoms, such as numbness, tingling, inability to speak correctly, garbled words, vision problems and headaches. Dizziness and passing out also are symptoms of carotid artery disease.
If you experience any of these heart disease symptoms, make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible for an evaluation and treatment. The sooner a heart condition is detected and treated, the better your chances for leading a normal, healthy life.
You're at greater risk for heart disease if you:
- Have high blood pressure.
- Have high cholesterol.
- Have diabetes.
- Are obese.
- Are of advanced age.
- Live a sedentary lifestyle.
- Have a family history of heart disease.
Get a checkup if you experience any of these common heart disease symptoms:
- Chest pain or pressure.
- Palpitations or the sensation of your heart skipping beats.
- Passing out.
- Shortness of breath.
- Swollen feet.
In general, these symptoms apply to both sexes, although sometimes symptoms are more subtle in women and can include flu-like symptoms, fatigue, sweating, nausea and pain in the jaw.