The Symptoms Of Heart Disease


The symptoms of heart disease differ depending on the type of heart disease you are suffering from.  However, it is important that you know what the symptoms are so that you can tell when you need to see a doctor.

Symptoms Of Atherosclerotic Disease (Heart Disease In The Blood Vessels)

Atherosclerotic disease or cardiovascular disease is caused by the blocking, narrowing and stiffening of the blood vessels which prevents your brain, heart and other organs from getting enough blood to function correctly.  The symptoms of this disease could differ for men and women.  In some instances, men more often suffer from chest pain while women are more likely to suffer from shortness of breath.  

The symptoms of this disease will include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain (angina)
  • Pain in the neck, throat, upper abdomen, back or jaw
  • Numbness, coldness, weakness or pain in the arms and legs (if the blood vessels in these areas are affected)

Many people are not diagnosed with this disease until after they have suffered a heart attack, heart failure, a stroke or angina.  However, this disease can sometimes be found early during examinations, but if you feel any of the symptoms it is important that you discuss this with your doctor.

Symptoms Of Heart Arrhythmias (Abnormal Heartbeats)

When suffering from heat arrhythmia your heart may beat too quickly, too slowly or irregularly.  The symptoms of this will include:

  • A racing heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • Fluttering in the chest
  • A slow heartbeat (bradycardia)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Near-fainting or fainting (syncope)

Symptoms Caused By Heart Defects

Many serious congenital heart defects, those people are born with, will become evident soon after birth.  Some of the symptoms that children could suffer from include:

  • Swelling of the abdomen, legs or the areas surrounding the eyes
  • Blue or pale gray skin colors (cyanosis)
  • Shortness of breath during feeding while an infant which leads to poor weight gain

There are other less serious heart defects which are not always diagnosed at birth and will be evident in childhood or during adulthood.  The symptoms of these defects are not usually life-threatening and include:

  • Easily tiring during activities and exercise
  • Easily getting short of breath during activities and exercise
  • Swelling of the feet, hands and ankles

Symptoms Of Dilates Cardiomyopathy (Weak Heart Muscles)

Cardiomyopathy is caused by the heart muscles thickening and stiffening.  In the early stages of this disease you could have no symptoms, but as the condition worsens the symptoms will include:

  • Fatigue
  • Breathlessness during exercise and when at rest
  • Dizziness, fainting and lightheadedness
  • Swelling of the feet, legs and ankles
  • Irregular heartbeats which feel pounding, rapid or fluttering

Symptoms Of Heart Infections

There are 3 types of heart infections:

  • Pericarditis – affects the tissue around the heart
  • Myocarditis – affects the muscular layer of the heart walls
  • Endocarditis – affects the inner membrane which separates the valves and chambers of the heart

The symptoms of the infections will vary slightly depending on the type of infection, but they will include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Skin rashes or unusual spots
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • A dry or persistent cough
  • Swelling in the abdomen or legs
  • Changes in the heart rhythm

Symptoms of Valvular Heart Disease

There are 4 valves in the heart (the mitral, aortic, tricuspid and pulmonary) which open and close to move blood.  The valves can be damaged by a number of conditions.  The symptoms of this disease will depend on which valve has been affected, but will generally include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Swollen ankles or feet

When To See A Doctor?

If you suffer from chest pain, fainting or shortness of breath then you should seek emergency medical attention.  Heart disease can be detected early, so it is best to talk to your doctor as soon as possible about any concerns that you have regarding your heart’s health.  If you are concerned about developing heart disease then you should talk to your doctor about preventative steps.