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Heart Disease Center

Heart Disease Symptoms

No single symptom indicates a heart disorder, but certain symptoms suggest a strong possibility. However, sometimes a heart disorder, even when serious, produces no symptoms (asymptomatic) until it reaches a late stage. Main symptoms of heart disease classified by part of the heart affected follow.

Symptoms caused by blood vessel irregularities

  • chest pain (angina)
  • coldness of the legs or arms
  • pain
  • numbness of the legs or arms
  • shortness of breath
  • weakness of the legs or arms

Symptoms caused by cardiomyopathy

  • bloating of the abdomen with fluid
  • breathlessness with exertion or even at rest
  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • fatigue
  • irregular heartbeats that feel rapid, pounding or fluttering
  • lightheadedness
  • swollen ankles
  • swollen feet

Symptoms caused by heart arrhythmias

  • a racing heartbeat
  • a slow heartbeat
  • chest pain
  • dizziness
  • fainting (syncope) or near fainting
  • fluttering sensations in your chest
  • lightheadedness
  • shortness of breath

Symptoms caused by heart defects

  • pale gray, ashen or blue skin color
  • shortness of breath while eating
  • swelling in areas around the eyes
  • swelling in the abdomen
  • swelling in the legs

Symptoms caused by heart infections

  • changes in heart rhythm
  • dry or persistent cough
  • fatigue
  • fever
  • shortness of breath
  • skin rashes
  • swelling in the abdomen
  • swelling in the legs
  • unusual spots on the skin
  • weakness

Symptoms caused by valve heart disease

  • chest pain
  • fainting
  • fatigue
  • heart murmur
  • irregular heartbeat
  • shortness of breath
  • swollen feet or ankles

When to seek help
Heart disease is easier to treat when it's detected early. Speak with your doctor about any concerns you have about your heart health. If you don't have heart disease, but are concerned about developing heart disease, talk to your doctor about steps you can take along with potential lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your heart disease risk. This is especially true if you heart disease runs in your family history. If you think you may have heart disease based on signs or symptoms you've been having, make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible. See your doctor when:

  • you experience chest discomfort that is accompanied with light headedness, fainting, nausea, or shortness of breath
  • you feel pain spreading to the shoulders, neck or arms
  • you feel an uncomfortable pressure, fullness or squeezing in the chest area that lasts for a few minutes or goes away and then returns

Routine health checkups or a visit to the doctor for another reason is usually when a heart disorder that has caused no symptoms is discovered. Sometimes doctors perform procedures to screen for a heart disorder even when there is no evidence of it but enough evidence or symptoms are present to cause your doctor to become suspicious of it. Continue reading the next section on Heart Disease Diagnosis that follows to learn more about how doctors diagnose mens and womens heart disease and what medical tests to expect.

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