Everything you wanted to know about Heart Disease (Part III)

Symptoms of Heart Disease in Adults

In adults, symptoms of heart disease can be sneaky and easy to miss at first. Parents, doctors and teachers constantly monitor children and investigate anything that seems abnormal. However, as an adult, you have to monitor yourself, and it’s all to easy to make excuses for symptoms that you don’t want to be there in the first place.

However, heart disease is the number one killer of adults in America today, so you really can’t afford to be anything less than vigilant. If you experience any of the symptoms below on a regular basis, please talk to your doctor about it to make sure that you receive the appropriate screening and treatment.

Angina

This is the most common symptom of coronary artery disease, although it also occurs as a result of some other forms of heart disease. Angina is basically chest pain. It is often described as a crushing sort of pain, or a combination of pain and pressure in the chest region. Angina is caused when the blood supply to the heart is blocked and the heart is being starved for the  oxygen it needs. In addition to chest pain, you may also feel discomfort in the shoulders, neck and arms.

Angina is classified based on how predictable the pain is. There are two types:stable and unstable. Stable angina always happens under certain conditions-after running, climbing stairs, or doing anything that increases the workload of your heart. Unstable angina is unpredictable-you might be watching television when it strikes.

Stable angina means that an artery is narrowed, but that the width if the blockage remains constant. The heart is able to keep the body well-fed with oxygen unless physical demands are placed upon it. Unstable angina means that an artery is partially obstructed and the width of the blockage is changing-either chunks of it are breaking off or blood clots are forming at the site and then being pushed onward. Unstable angina is the most dangerous form because an unstable blockage is more likely to suddenly and completely shut off blood flow to the heart.

Palpitations

A heart palpitation is the sensation that your heart is “skipping a beat.” This symptom often signals that you have a heart arrhythmia. Sometimes arrhythmia’s are temporary and not dangerous, so if it only happens on rare occasions and is not combined with other symptoms, there is probably not cause for concern. However, if this symptom occurs frequently or in conjunction with any of the other symptoms listed here, it is important to consult your doctor.

Fast Heartbeat

Feeling like your heart is racing even though you have not been engaging in strenuous activity can be a symptom of heart disease. This symptom also occurs in people without any problems, however, so don’t worry if it only happens occasionally. If it happens often or in conjunction with other symptoms, you should see your doctor.

Dizzy Spells

Spells of light headedness or dizziness can have many causes.However, heart disease is one possible cause, so if it happens often, it’s best to be examined by a doctor who can determine the cause and administer the appropriate treatment.

Fainting

Fainting, or sudden loss of consciousness, is a common experience and usually not serious. However, if you have had any issues with heart disease in the past or you experience a fainting spell in conjunction with other possible symptoms of heart disease, it is imperative that you see a doctor to rule out a potentially fatal arrhythmia.

Fatigue

Suddenly becoming more tired than usual during your day-to-day activities is another possible indicator of heart disease.

Shortness of breath

I you lose your breath and find yourself gasping for air during your normal daily activities, you may have heart disease or a lung disorder.

Nausea

Nausea can also be a symptom of some heart conditions. Of course nausea can have a variety of other causes…..anything from drinking too much to bad sushi the night before. So, use your best judgment before you start worrying about it.

Sudden rapid weight gain

This can be a sign of heart failure. Now, merely gaining a few pounds over the holidays is not a cause for concern. However, gains of 2-3 pounds per day accompanied by swelling in the legs, ankles, or belly and/or any other cardiac symptoms are a definite cause for concern.

If you experience any of the above symptoms, it’s important not to immediately panic. Many of these symptoms have a variety of other possible causes aside from heart disease. Most of the time, these other possibilities are both more probable and more benign. However, if you experience any one of these symptoms frequently or experience more than one of them at the same time, it is prudent to see a doctor to make sure that you don’t have an undiagnosed heart condition.

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