Heart DiseaseHeart disease is the No. 1 killer of U.S. men andwomen, accounting for 40% of all U.S. deaths.Thats more than all forms of cancer combined.Why is heart disease so deadly? One reason isthat many people are slow to seek help whensymptoms arise. Yes, someone gripped bysudden chest pain probably knows to call 911.But symptoms of heart problems arent alwaysintense or obvious, and they vary from personto person and according to gender.
Heart Disease Warning SignsBecause it can be hard to make sense ofpossible heart symptoms, doctors warn againstignoring any warning signs, toughing them out,waiting to see if they go away, or being quick toblame them on heartburn, muscle soreness, orother less serious, noncardiac causes. Thatsespecially true for men and people over 65, aswell as for people with other cardiac risk factors,such as high cholesterol or blood pressure,obesity, smoking, diabetes, or a family history ofheart disease.
Heart Disease Risk Factors"The more risk factors you have, the higher thelikelihood that a symptom means something isgoing on with your heart," says David Frid, MD,a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic. "Peopleoften dont want to admit that theyre oldenough or sick enough to have heart trouble.Putting off treatment for other medicalproblems might not be so bad, but a seriousheart problem can mean sudden death. Itsbetter to go in and get it evaluated than to bedead.“ This slideshow of pictures takes a look at12 possible heart symptoms never to ignore asthey may be a sign of heart trouble.
1. AnxietyHeart attack can cause intense anxiety or a fearof death. Heart attack survivors often talk abouthaving experienced a sense of "impendingdoom.“
2. Chest Discomfort - Pain in the chest is the classic symptom of heart attack, and "the No. 1symptom that we typically look for," says Jean C. McSweeney, PhD, RN, associate dean forresearch at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Nursing in Little Rock anda pioneer in research on heart symptoms in women. But not all heart attacks cause chest pain,and chest pain can stem from ailments that have nothing to do with the heart. Heart-relatedchest pain is often centered under the breastbone, perhaps a little to the left of center. The painhas been likened to "an elephant sitting on the chest," but it can also be an uncomfortablesensation of pressure, squeezing, or fullness. "Its not unusual for women to describe the pain asa minor ache," McSweeney says. "Some women say the pain wasnt bad enough even to take aTylenol.“ Women, more so than men, can also experience a burning sensation in their chest,rather than a pressure or pain. "Sometimes people make the mistake that the pain comes from astomach problem," says Nieca Goldberg, MD, clinical associate professor of medicine at the NYULangone Medical Center in New York City and another expert on womens heart symptoms.
3. CoughPersistent coughing or wheezing can be asymptom of heart failure -- a result of fluidaccumulation in the lungs. In some cases,people with heart failure cough up bloodyphlegm.
4. DizzinessHeart attacks can cause lightheadedness andloss of consciousness. So can potentiallydangerous heart rhythm abnormalities knownas arrhythmias.
5. FatigueEspecially among women, unusual fatigue canoccur during a heart attack as well as in the daysand weeks leading up to one. And feeling tiredall the time may be a symptom of heart failure.Of course, you can also feel tired or fatigued forother reasons. How can you tell heart-relatedfatigue from other types of fatigue? "If youdont feel well and all the wind is knocked out ofyour sails, dont try to figure it out on theInternet or from a book," says Goldberg."Wasting time is dangerous."
6. Nausea or Lack of AppetiteIts not uncommon for people to feel sick totheir stomach or throw up during a heart attack.And abdominal swelling associated with heartfailure can interfere with appetite.
7. Pain In Other Parts of the BodyIn many heart attacks, pain begins in the chestand spreads to the shoulders, arms, elbows,back, neck, jaw, or abdomen. But sometimesthere is no chest pain -- just pain in these otherbody areas. The pain might come and go.Men having a heart attack often feel pain in theleft arm. In women, the pain is more likely to befelt in both arms, or between the shoulderblades.
8. Rapid or Irregular PulseDoctors say that theres nothing worrisomeabout an occasional skipped heartbeat. But arapid or irregular pulse -- especially whenaccompanied by weakness, dizziness, orshortness of breath -- can be evidence of aheart attack, heart failure, or an arrhythmia.Left untreated, some arrhythmias can lead tostroke, heart failure, or sudden death.
9. Shortness of BreathPeople who feel winded at rest or with minimalexertion might have a pulmonary condition likeasthma or chronic obstructive pulmonarydisease (COPD). But breathlessness could alsoindicate a heart attack or heart failure."Sometimes people having a heart attack donthave chest pressure or pain but feel extremelyshort of breath," Goldberg says. "Its like theyvejust run a marathon when they havent evenmoved." During a heart attack, shortness ofbreath often accompanies chest discomfort, butit can also occur before or without chestdiscomfort.
10. SweatingBreaking out in a cold sweat is a commonsymptom of heart attack. "You might just besitting in a chair when all of a sudden you arereally sweating like you had just worked out,"Dr. Frid of the Cleveland Clinic says.
11. SwellingHeart failure can cause fluid to accumulate inthe body. This can cause swelling (often in thefeet, ankles, legs, or abdomen) as well assudden weight gain and sometimes a loss ofappetite.
12. WeaknessIn the days leading up to a heart attack, as wellas during one, some people experience severe,unexplained weakness. "One woman told me itfelt like she couldnt hold a piece of paperbetween her fingers," Dr. McSweeney says.
12 Possible Heart Symptoms Never to Ignore -SummaryTake note of these symptoms. As stated earlier,the more risk factors you have, the higher thelikelihood that a symptom means something isgoing on with your heart! Get yourself evaluatedand be safe rather than sorry.Source:eMedicine Health. (November 16, 2010). Heart healthslideshow pictures: 12 possible heart symptoms never toignore.http://www.emedicinehealth.com/heart_health_slideshow_pictures/article_em.htm. Retrieved on November 17, 2012