Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of conditions that could affect your heart. It includes blood vessel illnesses like coronary artery disease, congenital heart defects (ones you’re born with) and heart rhythm problems (usually referred to as arrhythmias). In most occasions, the term “heart disease” is replaced with the term “cardiovascular disease.” Professionals define cardiovascular diseases as a general term for conditions that normally cause stroke, chest pain, or heart attack by either blocking or narrowing blood vessels. Heart disease can also be used to describe heart conditions affecting the rhythm, muscles or valves of your heart.

Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease

Chest pain (scientifically referred to as angina) is the most common symptom of a CAD. If you have angina, you will experience squeezing, aching, discomfort, burning, or heaviness in your chest. Most individuals mistake angina with heartburn or even indigestion. The difference with angina is that you will feel it in almost all areas of your body including your throat, shoulders, back, neck, jaws, and arms. Other symptoms include the following;

  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Irregular heartbeats (palpitations)
  • Dizziness or weakness
  • Faster heartbeat

Symptoms of a Heart Attack

The following symptoms might suggest that you’re suffering from a heart attack;

  • Irregular/rapid heartbeats
  • Sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Indigestion, heartburn like feeling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or extreme weakness
  • Heaviness, pain, or pressure in the chest
  • Anxiety
  • Discomfort in the throat, jaw, arm, or back

These symptoms can occur for around half an hour or even longer and may not respond positively to oral medication or bed rest. The symptoms might appear as mild but escalate to severe pain after a while. If you have diabetes, you’re likely to experience myocardial infarction (MI) commonly referred to as “silent” because it’s a heart attack that doesn’t manifest any symptoms.

Symptoms of Heart Failure

Heart failure may manifest through the following symptoms;

  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Cough (with white sputum)
  • Irregular/rapid heartbeats
  • Dizziness, nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in legs and ankles

It’s important to note that these symptoms may not necessarily indicate that your heart is weak. Instead, they may just be a warning that your heart function is mildly weakened. However, it’s possible to have a heart that is severely damaged yet have few or no symptoms at all.

Symptoms of Congenital Heart Diseases

These are heart defects that may be discovered before birth, immediately after birth, during childhood or adulthood. Some people have these defects but experience no symptoms whatsoever. Such people end up being diagnosed through a chest X-ray or even a physical exam. Congenital heart defects among adults showcase the following symptoms;

  • Limited ability to exercise
  • Shortness of breath
  • Other symptoms of valve disease or heart failure

Symptoms of the disease among children or infants include;

  • Poor weight gain/ feeding
  • Inability to exercise
  • Bluish tint on the lips, skin, or fingernails (cyanosis)
  • Cyclical lung infections
  • Fast breathing

There are many other conditions categorized as heart diseases such as Pericarditis, atherosclerotic disease (affecting blood vessels), Atrial Fibrillation, valvular heart disease, heart infections, Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythm), and Heart Muscle Disease or dilated cardiomyopathy. All or most of these illnesses showcase similar symptoms.

Heart disease is very deadly and should be treated as an emergency. Heart diseases can be treated if detected early. Hence it’s crucial to consult a doctor as soon as you experience any symptoms to lessen the damage done to the most important muscle in your body; your heart. In case of emergences such as heart attacks, call 911.