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What Are the Symptoms of Heart Disease ?

2013-03-19 
The typical symptoms of coronary artery disease are associated chest pain with shortness of breath. Classically, the pain of angina is described as a pressure or heaviness behind the breast bone with radiation to the jaw and down the arm accompanied by shortness of breath and sweating. Unfortunately, angina has a variety of presentations, and there may not even be specific chest pain. There may be shoulder or back ache, nausea, indigestion or upper abdominal pain.
 
Women, the elderly, and people with diabetes may have different perceptions of pain or have no discomfort at all. Instead, they may complain of malaise or fatigue.
 
Healthcare providers and patients may have difficulty understanding each other when symptoms of angina are described. Patients may experience pressure or tightness but may deny any complaints of pain.
 
People with coronary artery disease usually have gradual progression of their symptoms over time. As an artery narrows over time, the symptoms that it causes may increase in frequency and/or severity. Healthcare providers may inquire about changes in exercise tolerance (How far can you walk before getting symptoms ? Is it to the mailbox ? Up a flight of stairs ?) and whether there has been an acute change in the symptoms.
 
Once again, patients may be asymptomatic until a heart attack occurs. Of course, some patients also may be in denial as to their symptoms and procrastinate in seeking care.