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Recognizing Symptoms of Heart Disease

November 13, 2009

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association showed that the number of people with obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure is increasing—all high risk factors for heart disease. So while we are working to make efforts to become healthier, it may be useful to also know how to recognize the symptoms of heart disease.

Each type of heart disease has different symptoms, although many heart problems have similar warning signs. The symptoms you experience depend on the type and severity of your heart condition. We’ll cover the most common symptoms here, but you can find a more detailed listing at WebMD.com.

Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease

The most common symptom of coronary artery disease is angina, or chest pain. Angina can be described as a discomfort, heaviness, pressure, aching, burning, fullness, squeezing, or painful feeling in your chest. It can be mistaken for indigestion or heartburn. Angina is usually felt in the chest, but may also be felt in the shoulders, arms, neck, throat, jaw, or back. Angina usually is provoked by exercise or even a large meal. Angina at rest or awakening with angina from sleep is an ominous sign and should be investigated immediately.

Symptoms of a Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction or MI) can include:

  • Discomfort, pressure, heaviness, or pain in the chest, arm, or below the breastbone
  • Discomfort radiating to the back, jaw, teeth, throat, or arm
  • Fullness, indigestion, or choking feeling (may feel like heartburn)
  • Sweating, nausea, vomiting, or dizziness
  • Extreme weakness, anxiety, or shortness of breath
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeats

Symptoms of a heart attack typically last 30 minutes or longer and are not relieved by rest or medications taken by mouth. Initial symptoms can start as a mild discomfort that progresses to significant pain, though some have a heart attack without having any symptoms. If you think you are having a heart attack, DO NOT DELAY. Immediate treatment of a heart attack is very important to lessen the amount of damage to your heart. Importantly, taking one aspirin at the first recognition of heart attack signs reduces mortality (death) by 24%!

Doctor Scott Sheldon NOHCAbout the author:
Dr. Sheldon completed his Fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. He specializes in Interventional Cardiology including Balloon Angioplasty, Laser, Directional Brachy Therapy, Atherectomy, Stent Placement, Rotoblator, Perepheral Intervention, Renal Stenting, Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Stenting and Acute Myocardial Infarction. Dr. Sheldon sees patients in our Elyria and Sandusky offices.

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