Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heart Disease

The common heart disease warning signs are angina, chest pain, dyspnea, edema, and palpitations.

Chest Pain

There are many causes of chest pain that have nothing to do with the heart, but it is a discomfort or pain felt along the front of the body. Angina chest pain is the most common symptom of poor blood flow to the heart, or a heart attack.

The intensity of the pain felt does not always relate to how severe the heart problem is:

  • Some feel only mild discomfort, while others may feel a crushing pain.
  • The chest may feel heavy or like someone is squeezing it or the heart. There may also be a sharp, burning pain in the chest.
  • There may be pain under the breastbone, or in the neck, jaw, arms, or upper back.
  • Chest pain from angina occurs with activity or emotion.

Women, older adults, and people with diabetes often have little or no chest pain.  They may have other symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • General weakness.
  • Change in skin color or grayish pallor.

There are other symptoms of a heart attack, which can include:

  • Extreme anxiety.
  • Fainting.
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Palpitations which feel like the heart is beating too fast, too strong, or irregular.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Sweating, sometimes very heavily.

Shortness of Breath

When the heart doesn’t pump blood as well as it should, blood backs up in the veins from the lungs to the heart. This fluid leaks into the lungs and causes shortness of breath (dyspnea). Shortness of breath may be noticed during activity, while you’re resting, or when you’re lying flat on your back.

Swelling in the Legs, Ankles, or Feet

Swelling (edema) in the lower legs is another sign of heart problems. When your heart isn’t working as well as it should, blood flow slows and backs up in the veins in the legs. This causes fluid to build up in the tissues.


Fatigue could be a sign of heart trouble if:

  • You feel more tired than normal. Women often feel severely tired before or during a heart attack.
  • You feel so tired that you cannot complete normal daily activities.
  • You have sudden, severe weakness.

Fast or Uneven Heartbeat (Palpitations)

When the heart isn’t pumping blood as well, it may beat faster to try to keep up. You could feel your heart racing. A fast or uneven heartbeat is also a sign of arrhythmia, which is a problem with the heart rate or rhythm.

If there are any signs of heart disease, or think you may be having a heart attack, call your health care provider or 911 right away. Don’t dismiss them as nothing.


Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heart Disease. Available from: Warning signs and symptoms of heart disease Information | Mount Sinai – New York

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