Heart Disease Symptoms You Can't Ignore
On the screen, cardiac events, including heart attacks, can be portrayed as dramatic events. In real life, heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks, isn't always as sudden and obvious. In fact, many people are not able to recognise many signs or symptoms of heart disease.
What is Heart Disease?
According to the Irish Heart Foundation, the term heart disease includes all diseases of the heart and circulation but most commonly it refers to coronary heart disease (angina, heart attack), stroke and other blood vessel diseases. Sometimes, heart disease isn't diagnosed until a person experiences signs or symptoms of a heart attack, heart failure, or arrhythmia.
One of the most common types of heart disease in Ireland is coronary artery disease, or cardiovascular disease (CVD). As plaque builds up in a person's arteries, it blocks or decreases the flow of blood that can get to and from the heart. A decrease in blood flow can cause a heart attack.
What Are the Symptoms of Heart Disease?
For years, typical symptoms of heart disease were primarily focused on men, but researchers are learning that men and women experience heart disease differently.
Additionally, symptoms can also present differently as people age, but these are common warning signs:
1. Pain or discomfort in the chest
This is the most common symptom among both men and women. The pain often starts in the centre of the chest and can persist for several minutes. It can also start, disappear, and then return. The pain can feel like fullness or squeezing. Some people have described the sensation as like an elephant sitting on their chest.
2. Pain or discomfort in the arms or shoulders
Another common symptom is pain that radiates down both arms.
3. Lightheadedness or dizziness
Feeling dizzy or lightheaded could mean you stood up too quickly or need to eat or drink. It could also be caused by low blood pressure, which could indicate that your heart can't circulate enough blood to the body. That could lead to a heart attack or other heart problems.
4. Nausea or vomiting
Sometimes people, particularly women, experience indigestion before a heart attack.
5. Jaw, neck, or back pain
It's unlikely that jaw, neck, or back pain alone is a sign of heart disease. However, if there's no reason for muscle or joint pain (like a recent workout), it could be a sign of heart disease. This is especially true for women.
6. Shortness of breath
This can occur with or without chest pain. Shortness of breath when lying down is a strong indication of heart failure.
7. Extreme, unexplained fatigue
This isn't being tired after a hard day's work. Rather, it is a sudden feeling of being so tired that you can't complete normal everyday activities. Extreme fatigue could be a sign that your heart is working much harder than it should need to in order to maintain blood flow, and decrease your ability to do physical activity over a short period of time.
8. Fast, slow, irregular, or uneven heartbeat
Prolonged changes in heart rhythm shouldn't be ignored, as consistency is key to maintaining blood flow. This symptom is especially common in women with heart disease and is often accompanied by other symptoms.
9. Excessive sweating
Sweating while not being active could be a sign of heart disease. Night sweats are also a common symptom of heart disease, and other serious diseases for women and should not be mistaken for 'hot flushes', nor should they be ignored.
About UPMC Cardiology Services
At UPMC, we provide screening, diagnostic testing, and many of the most up-to-date treatments for patients.
Our specialists are highly regarded in their fields and use the latest treatments and state-of-the-art equipment.With locations in Kilkenny, Kildare, and Waterford and an outreach centre in Carlow, UPMC Cardiology Services offers world-class care, closer to home.