Each type of heart disease can occur with certain symptoms, but there are many different heart diseases that have similar signs and symptoms. These depend on the type and severity of cardiac disease.
It is important that each of us to learn to recognize them, in order to ask for medical opinion if these symptoms first appear or get worse. Next, you will read about the most important and most common symptoms of cardiovascular disease.
The most important symptoms of cardiovascular diseases are:
1. Chest pain or chest discomfort
There are few more alarming than chest pain symptoms. For of many of us, cardiac chest pain is equivalent to cardiac pain. Although there are other diseases that show this kind of pain, heart disease is so common and dangerous that this symptom should never be overlooked. Chest pain is a less precise term. It is often used to describe any pain, pressure, suffocation, numbness or discomfort in the chest, neck, upper abdomen and often associated with pain in the jaw, head or arms.
Ischemic heart disease or myocardial infarction, causes of chest pain
Chest pain can last more than a second or a few days or weeks. It may occur frequently or rarely, predictable or sporadically. The most common causes of chest pain are ischemic heart disease, myocardial infarction, anxiety or panic, asthma, pneumonia, pericarditis, coronary artery spasm, dissection of the aorta.
2. Palpitations – sign of heart disease
Palpitations, translated by feeling someone’s own heartbeats, are a symptom often encountered. Most people describe them as either “pauses “of the heart rhythm (always followed by the perception of intense beats) or as periods of rapid and/or irregular heartbeat. Most patients who have palpitations actually have a type of cardiac arrhythmia. Almost all cardiac arrhythmias are manifested by palpitations, but most often, premature atrial and ventricular episodes of atrial fibrillation or supraventricular tachycardia episodes.
Palpitations can announce ventricular tachycardia
Sometimes, palpitations can signal the presence of a more dangerous arrhythmia, ventricular tachycardia. For this reason, it should not be ignored. Life-threatening arrhythmias are usually encountered in patients who have a pre-existing heart disease, and it is important to identify the cause of the palpitations in those with heart disease. The same is true in people with heart palpitations who have significant risk factors for heart disease (family history, smokers, high cholesterol, overweight or obese, sedentary).
3. Dizziness may betray a vascular disorder
Episodes of vertigo can have many causes, including anemia and other blood disorders, dehydration, viral infection, prolonged bed rest, diabetes, thyroid disease, gastrointestinal disorders, liver disease, renal, vascular, and neurological. Also, vasovagal episodes (fainting), heart failure and cardiac arrhythmias.
Frequent episodes of dizziness require a complete medical examination
Because many conditions can manifest the same symptoms, anyone who is complaining of episodes of vertigo should undergo full medical examination. Considering the variety of diseases with these symptoms, the most appropriate would be that this initial examination to be performed by your internist or family doctor.
4. Syncope – fainting or loss of consciousness
Syncope is a sudden and temporary loss of consciousness. It is a common symptom experienced at least once in life. In most cases, it does not indicate a serious medical problem. However, sometimes, the syncope indicates a dangerous disease. It is, therefore, important to identify the causes, which are grouped in four categories: neurological, metabolic, vasomotor and cardiac. Among these, only cardiac syncope often evolves into sudden death.
Arrhythmias and obstructive heart lesions may manifest with syncope
Syncopes of cardiac cause occur in arrhythmias or obstructive heart lesions: valvular diseases (aortic stenosis, mitral stenosis), blood vessel obstruction (blood clot in the pulmonary vasculature high), cardiac tumours such as atrial myxoma, a benign tumour that can clog the mitral valve). Most of these diseases are easily diagnosed during a medical examination and can be confirmed by performing an echography of the heart.
5. Fatigue, lethargy or daytime sleepiness
Fatigue, lethargy or daytime sleepiness are common symptoms. Fatigue can be defined as the inability to function, to fulfil the normal daily activities. Sleepiness involves, in addition, the tendency to fall asleep during the day or even falling asleep suddenly, this being known as narcolepsy.
Fatigue can be a sign of heart failure
Fatigue and lethargy are symptoms of heart disease, especially of heart failure. Therefore, they should be carefully assessed in order to identify the causes. Sleepiness is often caused by sleep disturbance during the night, as it happens in sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome and insomnia. These sleep disturbances are most common in patients with heart disease.
Dyspnea or breathing difficulty is often a manifestation of lung and heart diseases. Lung diseases which have dyspnea as a symptom are asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, pneumonia or pleurisy (accumulation of fluid between the pleural foils). What must be remembered is that dyspnea is almost always a sign of disease, so medical examination is mandatory.
Heart failure and coronary artery disease often have dyspnea as a symptom
Heart diseases manifested by dyspnea are especially heart failure and coronary disease. Patients with heart failure experience dyspnea during exercise or lying in bed on the back. Other cardiac conditions, such as valvular or pericardial disease, like arrhythmias, can present dyspnea in the clinical picture.
If the arteries supplying the legs or above are partially or completely obstructed (blocked), most commonly due to atherosclerosis, peripheral arterial disease symptoms appear: claudication (pain or cramps in the legs during walking or exercise, which improve or disappear at rest) and feeling cold or numbness in the legs, especially at night.
What does the specialist recommend?
There are many strategies that can prevent the onset of cardiovascular disease, mainly by adopting a healthy lifestyle:
Give up smoking! Chemicals in tobacco are harmful to the heart and vessels. The risk of cardiovascular disease significantly decreases after a year of having stopped smoking.
Make exercise at least 30 minutes a day!
A healthy diet, low in fat and salt, but rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains!
Keep your body weight within normal limits!
Make regular medical checks, checking blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose.
Children who have a family history of heart disease and young adults (from 20 years) should check their cholesterol at least once every 5 years. Diabetes is a major cardiovascular risk factor. For this reason, regular testing of blood glucose is recommended, especially in individuals with overweight or family history of diabetes.