Heart disease does not happen suddenly. It tends to creep into your life slowly, with symptoms that are easy to ignore at first.
If you’re in your 40s, 50s, or older, it’s even more important to pay attention to these warning signs, especially if you have a family history of heart disease. Any of these symptoms, especially if they occur frequently, may be enough to see a doctor or cardiologist.
Chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack, but you should understand that men and women can experience different symptoms. For example, women are more prone to shortness of breath, nausea, and jaw pain.
Chest pain can vary from person to person, but is usually described as a feeling of pressure or squeezing in the center or left side of the chest. You may feel as if something is sitting or pressing on your chest. It usually causes nausea and difficulty breathing.
Chest pain can be a symptom of health problems in many parts of the body, including the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, muscles, nerves, and bones. For the heart, it can be a symptom of several diseases, including:
Ischemic heart disease (blockage of the heart)
Heart attack (heart attack)
Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle)
Pericarditis (inflammation of the sac around the heart)
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (a genetic disorder that causes the heart muscle to thicken)
Mitral valve prolapse (a condition in which the heart valve does not close properly)
Abdominal pain or indigestion
This is a general burning sensation in the chest and stomach. One of the first things to consider is whether it occurs after eating. If so, it may be nothing more than heartburn—a common condition caused by stomach juices backing up into the esophagus. This causes pain that spreads to the neck and beyond. If you’re blue and the pain goes away, it’s probably not related to your heart.
This feeling is more alarming when it appears after physical exertion or a few hours after the last meal. If the pain is accompanied by other symptoms, such as sweating and shortness of breath, it can also indicate heart disease.
It’s not uncommon to sweat after a good workout or an afternoon of field work. But if you sweat while sitting on the sofa in front of the TV, this indicates that there may be a problem. When arteries become blocked, your heart has to work harder to maintain blood flow. In response, your body sweats to lower its temperature.
Night sweats are a common symptom in women with heart disease, but sometimes this symptom is mistaken for a symptom of menopause.
Arm or leg pain
Pain in the left arm is one of the most common symptoms of a heart attack. This is due to the fact that nerves from the heart send signals to the hands in common brain cells. When a problem occurs, your brain can’t tell the difference between the two sources, creating something called pain. This arm pain may indicate angina pectoris, a heart condition caused by a blockage or narrowing of the coronary arteries. The pain is more common in the left hand, while it can occur in the right hand or in both hands at the same time.
Leg pain is often a symptom of peripheral vascular disease, a circulatory disorder in which your legs don’t get enough blood flow to meet your body’s needs. If this happens to you, your doctor may want to check your heart because the body’s plumbing systems work together. Blockage in the legs can lead to problems upstream.
This may be difficult to assess. After all, who isn’t tired these days? There are other conditions, such as depression, where fatigue is a symptom. If you’re too tired to get out of bed in the morning, it might be something else. But if your stamina is waning, it could be your heart. Maybe you’ve recently been walking a mile or two a day, and suddenly you feel exhausted after half a block.
Jaw pain or stiffness in the neck
This is associated with arm pain because some of these nerves pass through the neck. This can cause jaw pain and even toothache when you walk or exert yourself. There are several clues that indicate that your heart is in a relationship. For example, a toothache does not go away after rest or taking nitroglycerin tablets.