Categories: Cardiology

Symptoms of Heart Disease

The heart is one of the most essential organs for our survival. It works as an engine of our body. The heart pumps blood through a ninety-seven-thousand-kilometre-long network of blood vessels. It beats more than 100,000 times a day clogging more than three billion heartbeats over an average lifetime. It supplies oxygen-rich blood to all the tissues and clears away harmful waste.

Thus, it becomes imperative for us to keep our hearts in good shape. The two most impactful ways to do this are

  1. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
  2. Understanding of symptoms that may signal underlying heart disease

Heart disease includes several conditions that can affect your heart. Some of them are

  • Coronary artery disease – diseases involving blood vessels of the heart
  • Arrhythmias- Heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias)
  • Congenital heart defects or defects present from birth
  • Heart valve disease like Atrial Stenosis, Mitral Valve stenosis
  • Heart muscle disease or cardiomyopathy
  • Heart infection like infective endocarditis

Symptoms of heart disease

The symptoms of heart disease depend on the type and severity of the disease you have. Let us try to discover some of the symptoms of heart conditions:

Symptoms of disease in heart’s blood vessels:

Atherosclerosis or the build-up of fatty plaques in the arteries can damage the heart and blood vessels. Atherosclerosis causes narrowing of blood vessels that can lead to chest pain or heart attack or stroke.

Coronary artery disease (or disease involving blood vessels of the heart) may exhibit different symptoms for men and women. Men with coronary artery diseases are more likely to develop chest pain as the major symptom. On the other hand, women having coronary artery diseases are more likely to have other symptoms such as nausea, breathlessness, and extreme fatigue, along with discomfort in the chest.

Signs and symptoms of coronary artery disease can include:

  • Chest pain and discomfort
  • Feeling of tightness and pressure in the chest.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain, numbness, and coldness in your legs or arms (due to narrowing of blood vessels in those parts)
  • Pain in the jaw, neck, throat, back, or upper abdomen
  • In many cases, coronary artery disease remains undetected until one has a heart attack, heart failure, or stroke. Awareness about the symptoms of coronary artery disease may help us in tackling it in the initial stages only.

Symptoms of heart disease involving abnormal heartbeats or arrhythmias

Arrhythmia may make your heartbeat too quick or too slow or irregular. Signs and symptoms of an arrhythmia may include:

  • Tachycardia or faster heartbeat
  • Bradycardia or slower heartbeat
  • Fluttering in the chest
  • Pain or discomfort in the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Light-headedness
  • Dizziness or fainting

Symptoms of heart disease involving congenital heart defects

Generally, the doctor can notice the severe forms of congenital heart defects soon after birth.

  • Bluish or greyish discoloration of the skin (cyanosis)
  • Swelling around the eyes
  • Swelling in legs or abdomen
  • Shortness of breath
  • Poor weight gain

Mild forms of congenital heart defects may escape diagnosis until late childhood or early adulthood.

Signs and symptoms of milder forms of congenital heart defects that are not life-threatening include:

  • Shortness of breath during exercise or activity
  • Fatigue and malaise
  • Swelling in the hands, ankles, or feet

Symptoms of disease involving heart muscles (cardiomyopathy)

Cardiomyopathy may have mild to no signs and symptoms in the early stage. But as the disease progresses, symptoms become more severe.

Some of the symptoms of cardiomyopathy are:

  • Breathlessness
  • Swelling in ankles and feet
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Rapid, pounding, or fluttering heartbeat
  • Dizziness,
  • Light-headedness
  • Fainting

Signs and symptoms of heart infection or endocarditis

Endocarditis (infection of the endocardium) affects the inner lining of the heart chambers and valves.

Heart infection signs and symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Swelling in legs or abdomen
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Dry or persistent cough
  • Unusual spots or rashes on the skin

Signs and Symptoms of heart valve diseases (valvular heart disease)

The four heart valves — the aortic, mitral, pulmonary, and tricuspid valves direct blood flow through the heart. Some of the common conditions involving heart valves are

  • Narrowing of heart valves (stenosis)
  • Heart valve leakage (regurgitation or insufficiency)
  • Improper closing of valves(prolapse).

Some of the common signs and symptoms of valvular heart diseases are:

  • Fatigue and malaise
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in feet or ankles
  • Fainting

Always remember early detection leads to a better prognosis. Always talk to a cardiologist if you have any concerns regarding your heart. If you have a family history of heart disease, starting heart-healthy habits right now.

If you feel that you may have heart disease based on the symptoms, make an appointment with the cardiologist immediately.

Dr. Dhananjay R S | Consultant – Cardiology – Adult, Cardiology – Paediatric | SS Narayana Heart Centre, Davangere

Narayana Health

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