Chest pain and arm numbness may be a hallmark signal of a heart attack, but your body doesn’t always give you such overt cues. Some are silent, so spotting the signs of heart disease may be challenging.
Heart disease also covers a number of cardiovascular related illnesses such as blood vessel disorders, heart rhythm issues and heart defects, according to Mayo Clinic. How can you identify the signs before it is too late? Here are some symptoms of heart disease (No. 9 is something you’d never expect).
1. Chest pain
You’ll want to get that checked out ASAP. | iStock.com/michaeljung
Chest pain may signal an abnormal heartbeat, heart valve damage or a heart attack. Similar symptoms include chest discomfort or tightness, along with pressure in the chest. Any discomfort that lasts more than a few minutes, or comes and goes, could mean you are experiencing a heart attack. See a physician if you experience chest pains or discomfort.
Next: This symptom may also signal a heart attack.
2. Shortness of breath
Are you feeling short of breath? | iStock.com/KatarzynaBialasiewicz
Another sign of a heart attack, shortness of breath may also be an abnormal heartbeat, heart infection or an improperly working heart valve. Infants with a heart defect may experience shortness of breath during feedings. Contact your doctor if you experience shortness of breath.
Next: Stroke and heart disease share this symptom.
3. Arm or leg numbness and weakness
This sign is a symptom of heart attack or stroke. | KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images
While arm or leg numbness is associated with a heart attack, arm weakness is a symptom of a stroke. Also coldness or weakness in your arms or legs could mean blood vessels are constricted.
Next: Pay attention to facial issues.
4. Jaw pain or facial drooping
Does your face look different? | megaflopp/iStock/Getty Images
Jaw pain or having discomfort in the neck, back or upper abdomen may be a symptom of a heart attack. Facial drooping, where only one side of the face has muscular function, could be a stroke.
Next: Also, watch speech.
5. Slurred speech
This can be an embarrassing symptom. | iStock.com/STUDIOGRANDOUEST
Another sign of a stroke is slurred speech or if the person cannot repeat a sentence or has difficulty comprehending speech.
Next: This symptom is important especially for women.
6. Cold sweat
Sweating on a freezing day? This is another symptom to watch out for. | iStock.com/andriano_cz
Breaking out in a sudden cold sweat while not in distress may be a heart attack symptom, especially in women.
Next: Listen to your heartbeat too.
7. Slow or rapid heartbeat
Keep an eye on your pulse. | iStock.com/RTimages
Fluttering, racing or slow heartbeat could mean you have an abnormal heartbeat or an arrhythmia. While in most cases an irregular heartbeat is not dangerous, see your doctor immediately when accompanied with fatigue, dizziness, chest pain or shortness of breath.
Next: See your doctor if you experience this sign.
Has this ever happened to you? | iStock.com/DragonImages
Fainting, or briefly becoming unconscious, can be associated with an abnormal heartbeat or damage to a heart valve. See a physician if you experience fainting.
Next: This symptom may occur with an abnormal heartbeat.
9. Dizziness or lightheadedness
This symptom is an uncomfortable one. | iStock.com/ AntonioGuillem
Being lightheaded or dizzy could mean you are experiencing an abnormal heartbeat or you have a weak heart muscle, known as cardiomyopathy. Early stages of cardiomyopathy may be symptomless so knowing your risk is vital to an early diagnosis.
Next: Pay attention to skin changes.
10. Skin conditions
A rash is never a good sign. | iStock.com/parinyabinsuk
Pale grey or bluish coloring in infants could be a heart defect symptom. Rashes or odd skin spots may signal a heart infection.
Next: Address any swollen limbs.
11. Leg or abdomen swelling
Swollen limbs? | PeJo29/iStock/Getty Images
Unusual leg or abdomen swelling could mean you have a heart infection or a heart defect. Swelling around the eyes is another heart defect symptom. Cardiomyopathy symptoms include swollen ankles, feet, abdomen or distended veins in the neck.
Next: Flu-like symptoms can be deceiving.
This could be nothing or it could be something more serious. | iStock.com/IPGGutenbergUKLtd
Although fever is associated with a variety of illnesses like the flu, it can also mean you have a heart infection, called myocarditis. Most mild cases resolve without treatment, which often mimic flu-like symptoms, Harvard Health reports.
Next: Exhaustion can mean heart disease.
Are you constantly tired? | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages
Fatigue is another symptom of myocarditis, but also valve damage and cardiomyopathy. Dangerous fatigue is not being able to perform normal activities like shopping or walking. Plus feeling constantly tired.
Next: Your stomach is trying to tell you something.
14. Nausea or indigestion
This common symptom could be something more. | Tom Foldes/iStock/Getty Images
Indigestion, heartburn, nausea and vomiting may signal a heart attack, especially in women, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Next: Can’t catch your breath during exercise?
15. Easily tired or shortness of breath during exercise
This symptom can be hard to distinguish. | iStock.com/Jacob Ammentorp Lund
While shortness of breath during exercise may speak directly to your fitness level, it could also signal a less serious congenital heart defect. Many heart defects diagnosed later in life are typically not immediately life threatening.
Next: When to call the doctor
16. Consult your physician
Always visit your doctor if you’re unsure. | David McNew/Getty Images
Go to the emergency room or call 911 if you experience any severe or extreme symptoms. Otherwise, schedule an appointment with a cardiologist if you have family history of heart disease, high total cholesterol, high blood pressure, have diabetes or if you experience heart pain, according to The University of Utah Health.
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