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Coronary Heart Disease (cont.)

What are the symptoms of heart disease?

Patient Comments

The most devastating sign of coronary heart disease is abrupt, unexpected cardiac arrest.

  • Cardiac arrest commonly occurs in people who have had previous heart attacks, but it may occur as the first symptom of heart disease.
  • Most people exhibit some symptom or discomfort.
  • Symptoms usually occur during exercise or activity because the heart muscle's increased demand for nutrients and oxygen is not being met by the blocked coronary blood vessel.

More common symptoms of coronary heart disease include the following. No one person usually has all of these symptoms.

  • Chest pain on exertion (angina pectoris), which may be relieved by rest
  • Shortness of breath on exertion
  • Jaw pain, back pain, or arm pain, especially on left side, either during exertion or at rest
  • Palpitations (a sensation of rapid or very strong heart beats in your chest)
  • Dizziness, light-headedness, or fainting
  • Weakness on exertion or at rest
  • Irregular heartbeat

Silent ischemia is a condition in which no symptoms occur even though an electrocardiogram (ECG, or heart tracing) and/or other tests show evidence of ischemia. Arteries may be blocked 50% or more without causing any symptoms.

When to seek medical care for heart disease

Call your health-care professional if you notice any of the following symptoms, which suggest angina:

  • Chest pain, pressure or feeling of indigestion after physical exertion, which may or may not be relieved by rest
  • Shoulder or arm pain involving left, right, or both sides during physical or mentally stressful activity
  • Jaw pain, unexplained by another cause, like a sore tooth
  • Shortness of breath after exertion or walking uphill
  • Fainting spell
  • Pain in the upper part of your abdomen
  • Unexplained nausea, vomiting, or sweating
  • Palpitations or dizziness

Call 911 or have someone take you immediately to a hospital emergency department if you have signs of a heart attack.

  • The most crucial factor is time. Each year, thousands of Americans die because they do not seek medical attention quickly.
  • Err on the side of caution and go to the hospital.
  • This may prove to be the difference between life and death.

The most common symptoms of heart attack include the following:

  • Unremitting or prolonged chest pain, chest pressure, or a feeling like heartburn
  • Shoulder or arm pains (left or right) or upper abdominal pain that won't go away
  • Shortness of breath after minimal activity or while resting
  • Blackout spells
  • Unexplained profuse sweating with or without nausea or vomiting
  • Frequent chest pain or discomfort at rest
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/25/2016
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