Heart Disease - Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of cardiovascular?

The classic symptoms of angina, or pain from the heart, are described as a crushing pain or heaviness in the center of the chest with radiation of the pain to the arm (usually the left) or jaw. There can be associated shortness of breath or sweating. The symptoms tend to be brought on by activity and get better with rest. Some patients may complain of indigestion and nausea while others may have upper abdominal, shoulder, or back pain.

Unfortunately, not all pain from coronary artery disease presents in this manner. The more we learn about heart disease, the more we realize that symptoms can be markedly different in different groups of people. Women, people who have diabetes, and the elderly may have different pain perceptions and may complain of overwhelming fatigue and weakness or a change in their ability to perform routine daily activities like walking, climbing steps, or doing household chores. Some patients may have no discomfort at all.

Most often, the symptoms of cardiovascular disease become worse over time, as the narrowing of the affected coronary artery progresses over time and blood flow to that part of the heart decreases. It may take less activity to provoke symptoms and it may take longer for those symptoms to resolve with rest. This change in exercise tolerance is helpful in making the diagnosis. Unstable angina is the term used to describe symptoms that occur at rest, waken the patient from sleep, and do not respond to nitroglycerin or resolve with rest.

Too often, however, the first presentation of heart disease may be a myocardial infarction, where a plaque ruptures causing one of the coronary arteries to occlude and prevent blood flow to the heart. This can lead to crushing chest pressure, shortness of breath, sweating, and perhaps sudden cardiac death.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: dudu, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 07

I am experiencing stabbing pain on my left and pain in the arm. The heart is throbbing on the left hand side and goes down my neck into the arm.

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Comment from: Linda, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: May 07

I am a 65 year old woman and moderately overweight for at least 10 years. I had a heart attack on Sunday, 5/3/2015. I had just been to the same emergency room 2 days before, presenting all of the classic heart attack symptoms, i.e., chest pain, shoulder pain, left arm pain, nausea, and was told I had indigestion. Unlike Friday where the chest pain came and went, Sunday morning's pain was unrelenting. My EKG was normal. Heart enzymes were normal. Luckily, a cardiologist was there within seconds. One look at me and he said 'she's having a heart attack, prepare her for surgery'. I woke up in cardiac ICU with no pain but many wires and medical instruments beeping. I was just glad to be there to hear it. I learned that my left ascending artery (LAD) had been 100 percent blocked and a stent with a medicine coating, to help keep it from getting clogged, had been inserted. I was released yesterday and have already made an appointment for my first cardiac therapy (not the same as rehabilitation) next Monday. I want to make a difference with this second chance.

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