Cardiovascular or heart diseases are nowadays very common. Like any other disease, heart problems have some typical tell-tale signs. They are therefore not difficult to prevent, provided you keep a watch on the signs and symptoms of heart problems.
Causes and Symptoms
The term heart disease is generic, and they include different types of heart diseases. Although the related symptoms of heart problems vary, there are some key symptoms that suggest a heart disorder. Typical symptoms of heart diseases depend on the cause of heart problems.Symptoms due to Thickening of Blood Vessels
Cardiovascular diseases caused by stiffened, narrowed or blocked blood vessels which prevent adequate blood supply from reaching various parts of the body including the heart, brain and other important organs are very common. Their symptoms are predominantly chest pain, breathlessness and numbness.
Angina or chest pain is the most common and alarming symptom though not exclusive of a heart disorder. There are many other conditions that can cause a chest pain such as acidity, muscle pull, etc. Medically, it is defined as an unbearable pain, choking, pressure, numbness, squeezing, or any other discomfort in the chest, upper abdomen, or neck area. The pain can last for a time period, ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes or even a few days. The occurrence maybe rare, sporadic, or very frequent. This definition may seem vague since many other conditions apart from a heart disease can cause these symptoms.
Shortness of Breath
This symptom is typical of lung (pulmonary) or cardiac disorders. Coronary artery diseases or heart failures commonly cause shortness of breath. This is most common when individuals lie flat on their backs. They often wake up at night suddenly gasping for breath. This condition is called paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea. Cardiac disorders like cardiac arrhythmia, pericardial disease, valvular heart disease, etc., can cause this symptom. Lung conditions like bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, and pleural effusion can also cause this condition. Since breathlessness is a serious medical condition, it is mandatory to seek medical help.
If the blood vessels towards some particular parts of the body like arms or legs get narrowed, then patients may experience pain, weakness, or numbness in those particular parts. This is because owing to narrow blood vessels the blood supply to those particular body parts may get reduced causing numbness.
Symptoms Caused by Abnormal Heart Beats
An abnormal heartbeat or arrhythmia causes symptoms like palpitations, racing heart, fatigue, dizziness, syncope, lightheadedness, etc., apart from chest pain and breathlessness.
In layman’s language, palpitations are nothing but being aware of your heartbeats. They maybe described as fluttering in your chest, ‘skips’, or irregular heartbeats. In a skip, heartbeats are particularly strong after a small pause. They are also defined as periods of irregular or rapid heartbeats. People suffering from palpitations generally suffer from abnormal heart rhythms or cardiac arrhythmia. There are different types of cardiac arrhythmia that cause palpitations such as Premature Ventricular Complexes (PVCs), Premature Atrial Complexes (PACs), episodes of Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT), and atrial fibrillation. In some cases like that of SVT, palpitations signal a dangerous state of heart arrhythmia.
Feeling dizzy can be due to a variety of causes such as weakness, anemia, blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disorders, liver disorders, gastrointestinal disturbances, etc. Generally, dizziness is caused due to lack of blood supply to the brain. The blood supply gets hampered when the heart is unable to pump blood normally thus causing dizziness.
Fatigue and lethargy are very common, and the reasons range from simple tiredness to heart problems, blood pressure disorder, diabetes, etc. Lethargy and fatigue are medically defined as the inability of an individual to continue their routine activities normally. This condition gets worsened by somnolence or daytime sleepiness. Sometimes, the individual may inadvertently fall asleep condition termed as narcolepsy. Fatigue and lethargy are particularly symptoms of heart failure. However, these symptoms can be caused by a disorder of any other organ system in the body. Individuals suffering from dizziness and daytime sleepiness must seek medical help to find out the exact cause and cure them. Although daytime sleepiness maybe caused by insomnia or sleep apnea, disturbances in sleep patterns are typical symptoms of heart disorders.
Fainting or losing consciousness temporarily is known as syncope, and it is a very common symptom not exclusive of heart problems. Although this does not indicate a very serious medical condition yet, it can be life threatening. It is therefore important to figure out the cause of the disease whenever it occurs. The causes maybe cardiac, metabolic, neurological, or vasomotor. Of these four symptoms, cardiac syncope is the most dangerous since it commonly leads to sudden death.
Symptoms Caused by Heart Defects
Sometimes, people are born with heart defects. Such cases are called congenital heart defects, and they include symptoms like cyanosis or blue-colored skin, breathlessness while being fed resulting in poor weight gain, and swelling in the legs and abdomen.
While serious congenital heart defects are detected immediately, the lesser threatening ones are detected much later in childhood. In such cases, individuals may get tired easily during activities and experience breathlessness. They may also have fluid built up in the lungs and the heart and limbs may get swollen.
Symptoms of Cardiomyopathy
Cardiomyopathy is thickening of heart muscles. While there maybe no symptoms in the early stages, as the disease progresses, individuals may experience breathlessness even at rest, bloating of abdomen, irregular heartbeats, and weakness followed by fainting.
Symptoms Caused by Heart Infections
Heart infections are of three types viz, pericarditis, myocarditis, and endocarditis. The symptoms in each type of infection vary slightly from each other although the most common ones are skin rashes, fatigue, dry cough, fever, swollen limbs, and arrhythmic heart.
The symptoms of heart problems are predominantly similar although they vary in many cases. It is, however, imperative that you consult a doctor as soon as you experience any of the above symptoms. The heart being an important part of the human body, diseases if any must be treated quickly for a healthy life.