We all know the classic symptom of heart- disease – chest pain. But a serious condition such as heart problems can also present with symptoms that are unusual, mild, or ambiguous. These are seven sneaky signs of heart disease that experts say you should be on the red on, including exactly what kind of chest discomfort to watch out for. Read on – and to ensure your health and that of others, don’t miss this one Certain Signs You Have “Long” COVID and May Not Even Know It.
Aside from the classic symptom of chest pain, “I usually tell patients that any new symptom that occurs with exercise is something to watch out for,” says Nicole Weinberg, MD, a cardiologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. “For example, let’s say you just started feeling nauseous from your workout. That’s something we should investigate further and more closely to find out what’s causing it.”
A golden rule: “If a symptom occurs, especially with exercise, and doesn’t subside for five minutes, call your doctor or report to the ER,” Weinberg says.
“Certainly the most urgent sign remains chest pain, but not every chest pain is heart,” says Robert Greenfield, MD, a double-board-certified cardiologist and lipidologist at the MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. Here’s how to see it: “Classic heart pain is a severe discomfort in the center of your chest that feels like a tightness or tightness. It can radiate to your arms — usually the left arm or both arms — and may be accompanied by shortness of breath.” and possibly a cold sweat.”
If chest pain comes on with exertion and goes away with rest, it’s called angina, “and that can be a critical warning sign that your heart is in trouble.” says Groenveld. “Angina pain lasts for a few minutes, but if the pain persists, 911 may be the best next step.”
Getting medical help if you experience chest pain can be life-saving, especially if you are middle-aged or older and have risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol. “Always proceed with caution,” Greenfield says. “Some people mistake the symptom as indigestion or muscle twitching, but a correct diagnosis can only be made by a health care professional.”
“There are many conditions that can cause fatigue,” says Bobbi Bogaev, MD, cardiologist and medical director for Abiomed. “Still, persistent, unexplained fatigue with normal daily activities that require you to stop to rest or catch your breath can be a sign that your heart isn’t pumping properly.”
“Heart disease can affect anyone, even those who think they are healthy, take care of themselves and think they are not at risk. It is critical for everyone to watch for early warning signs and address them before they turn into something more serious.” like a heart attack,” says DP Suresh, MD, cardiologist and executive medical director of the St. Elizabeth Heart & Vascular Institute in Edgewood, Kentucky. Watch for chest pain, difficulty breathing with exertion, sore throat or jaw pain, exhaustion with minimal activity, or an irregular heartbeat. Mild symptoms should alert you to see a doctor to have your heart checked. For symptoms that persist or come on, call 112.”
“Many people often attribute shortness of breath to not being in shape or gaining weight, but don’t write it off too quickly,” says Dr. bogaev. “If you find yourself gasping for air after normal daily activities, such as climbing stairs, it could be heart related.”
“Often we feel palpitations after drinking too much caffeine or from stress, but if you’re just sitting and reading a book and notice your heart is beating unusually — too fast or unevenly — it could be a sign of heart disease,” says Dr. bogaev.
according to Sadi Raza, MD, FACC, a board-certified cardiologist in Ft. Worth, Texas, another common sign of developing heart disease is edema or swelling, especially leg swelling that doesn’t improve with elevation, or generalized swelling throughout the body. Consult a cardiologist if you have persistent complaints. “You need to seek more urgent advice if you experience chest pain at rest or with little activity,” Raza says.
To be proactive about your heart health, Raza says, it’s important to know “your numbers” — your body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and A1c (a marker of diabetes). Your healthcare provider can assess these with simple tests. And to go through life as healthy as possible, you can’t miss this one 13 Everyday Habits That Are Secretly Killing You.