Symptoms of Serious Health Conditions

This information shows some symptoms that could be signs of serious health conditions, which should be checked by a doctor or nurse. It is important to note that you might feel symptoms in one part of your body that could actually mean a problem in another part. Even if the symptoms don't seem related, they could be. Keep track of your symptoms. If you have any of these symptoms, make an appointment to see your doctor. Listen to what your body is telling you, and be sure to describe every symptom in detail to your doctor.

Signs of a heart attack

Some symptoms of a heart attack can happen a month or so before the heart attack.

Before a heart attack, women have had these symptoms:

During a heart attack, women have had these symptoms:

  • pain or discomfort in the center of the chest
  • pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • other symptoms, such as shortness of breath, breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light-headedness

If you have any of these symptoms, go to an emergency room right away or call 911.

For more, please read the Heart Attack Prevention and Heart Attack articles.

Signs of a stroke

Signs of a stroke happen suddenly and are different from signs of a heart attack:

  • sudden or developing problems with speech
  • sudden or developing problems with sight
  • sudden or developing problems with balance and coordination
  • sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arms, or legs

If you have any of these symptoms, go to an emergency room right away or call 911.

For more, please read the Stroke article.

Symptoms of reproductive health problems
  • bleeding or spotting between periods
  • itching, burning, or irritation (including bumps, blisters, or sores) of the vagina or genital area
  • pain or discomfort during sex
  • severe or painful bleeding with periods
  • severe pelvic pain
  • unusual (for you) vaginal discharge of any type or color or with strong odor

For more, please visit the Women's Health Center.

Symptoms of breast problems
  • nipple discharge
  • unusual breast tenderness or pain
  • breast or nipple skin changes: ridges, dimpling, pitting, swelling, redness, or scaling
  • lump or thickening in or near breast or in underarm area, or tenderness

For more, please visit the Women's Health Center.

Symptoms of lung problems
  • coughing up blood
  • persistent cough that gets worse over time
  • repeated bouts of bronchitis or pneumonia
  • shortness of breath

For more, please visit the Lung Health Center.

Symptoms of stomach or digestive problems
  • bleeding from the rectum
  • blood or mucus in the stool (including diarrhea) or black stools
  • change in bowel habits or not being able to control bowels
  • constipation, diarrhea, or both
  • heartburn or acid reflux (feels like burning in throat or mouth)
  • pain or feeling of fullness in stomach
  • unusual abdominal swelling, bloating, or general discomfort
  • vomiting blood