The term heart disease is often used interchangeably as cardiovascular disease. There are many types of heart diseases – each one has its own symptoms and treatment. Coronary Artery Diseases; Heart Rhythm Problems (Arrhythmias); Cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease); Heart valves disease; Heart failure; Congenital Heart Disease or heart Defects and Heart infections are some of the common heart diseases. The symptoms of heart diseases depend on the type of heart disease a person has. Let us have a look at the signs and symptoms associated with some of these heart diseases.

Symptoms associated with atherosclerotic disease (coronary artery disease) may be different for men and women.  While this may be correct to an extent, it is important to understand that any sudden and unexplained complaints above the waistline should always be taken seriously.

Symptoms in men

  • Chest pain (prominent symptom)
  • Chest discomfort (angina)
  • Pressure in the chest
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the arms
  • Weakness or coldness in arms and legs
  • Numbness in the arms
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back

Symptoms in women

  • Chest discomfort
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Abdominal Discomfort
  • Back pain
  • Nausea

 Abnormal heartbeat or heart arrhythmia is a condition in which your heart may beat irregularly, too slowly or too quickly. The signs and symptoms of heart arrhythmia include the following:

  • Slow heartbeat or bradycardia
  • Quick or racing heartbeat tachycardia
  • Fluttering in the chest
  • Near fainting or Fainting (syncope)
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Discomfort in chest or chest pain

Heart disease symptoms caused by heart defects

New-born children with heart defects have the following symptoms if they are born with congenital heart disease:

  • Pale grey or blue skin colour
  • Swelling around the eyes, abdomen and in the legs
  • Shortness of breath – especially during feeding
  • Poor weight gain

Congenital heart diseases may go unnoticed in some children owing to less serious signs and symptoms – and are often diagnosed in late childhood or early adulthood. Signs and symptoms associated with such less serious congenital heart diseases include the following:

  • Getting tired easily during physical activity or exercise
  • Experiencing breathlessness during activity or exercise
  • Easily getting tired during activity and exercise
  • Swelling in the hands, ankles or feet

Cardiomyopathy (Weak Heart Muscles)

The signs and symptoms associated with this condition may not manifest during the early stage of the heart disease, but as the disease progresses and the condition worsens, the patient may have the following symptoms:

  • Easily getting tired with little activity or exertion
  • Breathlessness with exertion or rest
  • Swelling of feet, ankles and legs
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness, fainting (syncope) and light-headedness
  • Rapid, irregular heartbeats

Heart disease symptoms caused by heart infections

Infections of the heart membrane (Endocarditis): Endocardium is the inner membrane of the heart that separates heart chambers and valves. If it is infected, the signs and symptoms may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in the abdomen, ankles and feet
  • Fever
  • Abnormal or irregular heart rhythm
  • Changes in heartbeats
  • Persistent dry cough
  • Unusual spots or skin rashes

Valvular heart disease symptoms

Valves in the heart open and close and thus direct blood flow through the heart. Tricuspid, mitral, the aortic and pulmonary are the four valves in the heart – which regulate blood flow. These valves can be damaged by a variety of heart diseases.

In general, the signs and symptoms associated with the valvular heart disease depend on the valve which is defective and may include the following:

  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fainting (syncope)
  • Swollen feet or ankles
  • Fatigue

When to see a doctor

You must seek emergency medical care if you experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Severe chest pain with pressure and heaviness in the chest
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Fainting

Bottom Line

Heart disease eludes from being detected as it slowly and silently progresses. It rather comes as a big surprise in the form of angina, heart attack or heart failure. One thing you should always remember – your heart’s language is quite difficult to interpret – therefore, when you see even a slight abnormality or symptoms then you must immediately discuss your concerns with your cardiologist. Regular health check-ups, consultation with your cardiologist; a better understanding of your risk factors and comprehensive heart’s health evaluation can ensure early detection of heart disease. Your heart is precious, if you love your heart, then take care of it.