Recognizing Symptoms of Heart Disease
Rather than being a specific ailment, the term heart disease is an umbrella term used to describe a grouping of different potentially life-threatening heart and blood vessel conditions. Examples of cardiovascular disorders that are listed under the category of heart disease are Coronary Artery Disease (the number one cause of heart attacks), aneurysms, congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure, endocarditis, myocarditis, heart arrhythmias (changes in the beat of the heart), and mitral valve prolapse. Some cardiovascular disorders are present at birth. Other types of heart disease occur due to heredity, diet, and other factors. Heart disease is typically a life-long condition. This means, once you are diagnosed with it, you will have it for the duration of your life.
The heart is the organ that is responsible for pumping nutrients and oxygen-filled blood to every living cell and tissue inside the body. Therefore, if the heart is unable to properly do its job the rest of the body can suffer.
The following symptoms are associated with heart disease. If you experience these symptoms, it is important that you notify your doctor. Some of these symptoms are also associated with a heart attack and could indicate a medical emergency.
- Chest pain (also called angina), chest discomfort, or the feeling of a weight on your chest. However, pressing on the chest wall doesn’t cause pain. This is sometimes a warning sign of a heart attack and can be a medical emergency.
- Pain in one or both arms. Pain in the left shoulder. Pain in the jaw or neck. Pain in the mid back.
- Shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing. This can indicate a need for immediate medical attention.
- Dizziness or lightheadedness.
- Nausea. Feeling sick to your stomach.
- Increased sweating.
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Abnormal heartbeat.
- Fatigue (feeling overly tired) from parts of the body not receiving sufficient oxygen.
- Swelling in the ankles and legs.
- The need to sleep propped up on multiple pillows in order to breathe better.
- Skin color changes from its normal shade to blue (cyanosis) or gray due to not receiving enough oxygen. This can affect the nail beds, lips, nose, and ears. Cyanosis is usually more noticeable when the patient is fair skinned. Cyanosis can indicate a medical emergency.
Warning signs of a heart attack include: shortness of breath, chest discomfort, nausea, cold sweat, light-headedness and discomfort in various locations of the upper body (such as one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, and gut). Seek prompt medical care if you have these warning signs. Even if you aren’t sure that you are experiencing a heart attack or other sort of medical emergency, it is better to immediately go to the hospital to have yourself checked.