Advertisement

What are the signs of heart disease?

Boston Women's Health Book Collective
Administration Specialist

Plaques in the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle, usually expand gradually with no symptoms until the artery is narrowed at least 70 percent. At that point, the need of the heart muscle for oxygen and nutrients may exceed the artery's ability to deliver it. In high-demand situations, such as during exercise or in cold weather, you may develop chest heaviness, which is relieved by rest. This symptom, called angina, can also feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain and be accompanied by shortness of breath. Not everyone has typical angina; some have discomfort in the arm, jaw, or stomach, or shortness of breath without discomfort, or fatigue.

Plaques may become fragile and rupture, causing complete obstruction of the artery — a heart attack. So, if chest discomfort or shortness of breath lasts for more than a few minutes or waxes and wanes, particularly if you also experience nausea, cold sweat, or lightheadedness, seek immediate medical attention. Time is of the essence in treating heart attacks, so dial 911 and let the emergency medical system perform its role.

Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause

More About this Book

Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause

FROM THE EDITORS OF THE CLASSIC "BIBLE OF WOMEN'S HEALTH," A TRUSTWORTHY, UP-TO-DATE GUIDE TO HELP EVERY WOMAN NAVIGATE THE MENOPAUSE TRANSITION For decades, millions of women have relied on Our...

Continue Learning about Heart Disease Symptoms

What Fainting Says About Your Heart
What Fainting Says About Your Heart
Odds are, you know someone who has fainted—or maybe you’ve passed out yourself. Often referred to by its medical name, syncope, fainting is a loss of ...
Read More
Should I talk to my doctor about my hypovolemic shock symptoms?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Hypovolemic shock is an urgent medical issue, and if you suspect that you or someone you know may be...
More Answers
Why should I be concerned if my C-reactive protein (CRP) level is high?
Intermountain HealthcareIntermountain Healthcare
C-reactive protein (CRP) levels increase when blood vessels are inflamed. Researchers have found...
More Answers
What Is the Best Way to Prevent Heart Disease?
What Is the Best Way to Prevent Heart Disease?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.