Heart Disease Overview

Heart disease, such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, congestive heart failure, and congenital heart disease, is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S. Prevention includes quitting smoking, lowering cholesterol, controlling high blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising.

Symptoms of Heart Disease

Coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, heart attack — each type of heart problem requires different treatment but may share similar warning signs. It is important to see your doctor so that you can receive a correct diagnosis and prompt treatment.

Learn to recognize the symptoms that may signal heart disease. Call your doctor if you begin to have new symptoms or if they become more frequent or severe.

Coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, heart attack — each type of heart problem requires different treatment but may share similar warning signs. It is important to see your doctor so that you can receive a correct diagnosis and prompt treatment.

Learn to recognize the symptoms that may signal heart disease. Call your doctor if you begin to have new symptoms or if they become more frequent or severe.

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 may also be felt in the shoulders, arms, neck, throat, jaw, or back.

Other symptoms of coronary artery disease include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations (irregular heart beats, or a “flip-flop” feeling in your chest)
  • A faster heartbeat
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Symptoms of a Heart Attack

Symptoms of a heart attack can include:

  • Discomfort, pressure, heaviness, or pain in the chest, arm, or below the breastbone
  • Discomfort radiating to the back, jaw, 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
  • During a heart attack, symptoms typically last 30 minutes or longer and are not relieved by rest or oral medications. Initial symptoms may start as a mild discomfort that progresses to significant pain.

Some people have a heart attack without having any symptoms, which is known as a “silent” myocardial infarction (MI). It occurs more often in people with diabetes.

If you think you are having a heart attack, DO NOT DELAY. Call for emergency help (dial 911 in most areas). Immediate treatment of a heart attack is very important to lessen the amount of damage to your heart.

Symptoms of Arrhythmias
When symptoms of arrhythmias, or an abnormal heart rhythm, are present, they may include:

  • Palpitations (a feeling of skipped heart beats, fluttering or “flip-flops” in your chest)
  • Pounding in your chest
  • Dizziness or feeling light-headed
  • Fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest discomfort
  • Weakness or fatigue (feeling very tired)