Common Symptoms of Cardiac Diseases

22 January, 2019

The heart is a muscular organ, the size of a man’s fist, and like any other muscle, it also requires proper blood supply and oxygen to keep the muscle pumping at an optimal level. The heart pumps blood not only to the rest of the body, but to itself too, via the coronary arteries; these coronary arteries cover the entire surface of the heart and originate from the base of the aorta, the major blood artery that takes away oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

When a coronary artery gets narrowed, it leads to reduced blood flow to the heart and can cause the heart muscles to ache, especially during exercise when more oxygen is needed. Excessive narrowing of these coronary arteries can lead to shortness of breath and chest pain, classic symptoms of angina or artherosclerotic/coronary artery disease. When one of these coronary arteries gets completely blocked, blood supply to that part of the heart may be lost, resulting in death of a piece of the heart muscle; this is known as myocardial infarction.

Heart disease or cardiac disease is an umbrella term used to refer to any disorder affecting the heart. Cardiovascular diseases on the other hand, refer to disease conditions of both the heart as well as the blood vessels connected to it. Some of the cardiac diseases along with their symptoms are mentioned below:

Coronary artery disease– Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, anxiety, fatigue, sweating, palpitations and a pain in the chest that can variously be described as heavy, squeezing, burning, fullness, pressure, etc.

Heart Arrhythmias– Also known as atrial fibrillation, where the heart may beat too slowly (bradycardia), fast (tachycardia) or irregularly. Symptoms of this include fluttering in the chest, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, dizziness and fainting, and chest pain.

Cardiomyopathy– This refers to a thickening and stiffening of the heart muscles, which over time could lead to symptoms of breathlessness upon exertion, fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, swelling of ankles and feet, and irregular, pounding or fluttering heartbeats.

Valvular heart disease– The heart has four valves and they can get damaged sometimes by conditions leading to their narrowing (stenosis), leaking (regurgitation) or improper closing (prolapsed). Depending on which valve is malfunctioning, you may have symptoms of fatigue, chest pain, fainting, irregular heart beat and shortness of breath.

Heart attack – Symptoms typically last about 30 minutes and include heavy or pressure discomfort in the chest, arm or below the breastbone that radiates to the back, jaw, throat or arm. Other symptoms are nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme weakness, fatigue, anxiety, sweating, rapid or irregular heartbeat and a choking pain that feels like heartburn.

Congenital heart defects – These can be diagnosed during childhood or adulthood and includes symptoms of heart failure or valvular disease aside from shortness of breath and limited ability to exercise.

Heart infections– These can present as pericarditis, myocarditis or endocarditis and symptoms can include fever, persistent cough, skin rashes/spots, swelling legs or abdomen, fatigue and shortness of breath.

You would have often heard of these terms and wondered what they actually meant; well now you do hopefully understand what cardiac diseases are about. Since most of these conditions are emergency status and have similar overlapping symptoms, you will need to check into a hospital ASAP after onset of the symptoms!