Early signs of heart disease

The first sign of heart disease is often a heart attack or other serious event. But, there are a few important signs that can help you recognize problems before they come to a head.

In the early stages, symptoms that seem like mere annoyances may come and go. For example, you may have heart arrhythmias, which can cause:

  • difficulty catching your breath after moderate physical exertion, like walking up a flight of stairs
  • a sense of discomfort or squeezing in your chest that lasts for 30 minutes to a few hours
  • unexplained pain in your upper torso, neck, and jaw
  • a heartbeat that is faster, slower, or more irregular than usual
  • dizziness or fainting

Heart disease that involves your blood vessels is often signaled by:

  • angina (chest pain)
  • shortness of breath
  • changes in your extremities, such as pain, swelling, tingling, numbness, coldness, and weakness
  • extreme fatigue
  • irregular heartbeat

These symptoms can be signs that your blood vessels have narrowed. This narrowing, which can be caused by plaque buildup, makes it more difficult for your heart to circulate oxygenated blood throughout your body.

In addition to the above symptoms, heart disease caused by an infection of the heart can include dry cough, fever, and skin rashes.

A cluster of risk factors may also signal impending heart disease. For example, your risk of heart disease significantly increases if you have diabetes and high blood pressure.

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