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Common Cardiovascular Disease Symptoms
6 Dec. 2013

cardiocascular-diseasCardiovascular disease, also referred to as heart disease, encompasses a variety of conditions that affect your heart function. Some of these diseases include: arrhythmia (heart rhythm irregularities), coronary artery disease, cardiovascular infections and congenital heart defects (heart problems that you are born). Cardiovascular disease typically involves restricted and/or narrowed blood vessels, but it can also involve your heart muscles, heart rhythm and/or heart valves.

Common cardiovascular disease symptoms include the following:

Chest Pain

Chest pain is one of the most common symptoms of cardiovascular disease. You can experience chest pain when your heart does not receive enough blood and oxygen. The chest pain may resemble “heaviness” or pressure behind your breastbone or it may feel like a sharp pain in your chest that comes and goes. The chest pain may begin in your chest and move throughout your body to your arms, back and/or abdomen.

Dyspnea: Shortness of Breath

Another common symptom of cardiovascular disease is dyspnea or shortness of breath. It is important to note that at first you may not notice the labored breathing (shortness of breath), but over time, it may become more obvious. Moreover, you may experience, severe fatigue, edema (swelling in your legs, fingers, abdomen, face and/or feet), generalized weakness and severe coughing, along with your shortness of breath.

Tachycardia: Accelerated Heart Rate

It is not uncommon to experience tachycardia or accelerated heart rate with cardiovascular disease. As an adult, your heart beats approximately 60 to 80 times per minute (while at rest), but if you have heart disease, your heart may beat 120 times or more per minute (while at rest). This symptom occurs when irregular and/or abnormal electrical signals cause your heart to experience a sudden increase in heart beats. If left untreated,tachycardia can lead to cardiac arrest, strokes, heart attacks and/or death.

Bradycardia: Reduced Heart Rate

Bradycardia, like tachycardia, is a serious symptom associated with cardiovascular disease. Bradycardia, unlike tachycardia, is defined as a delay in heart beats. Other symptoms that may accompany a reduced heart rate include: heart palpations, fainting, dizziness and/or a fluttering feeling in your chest.

Lightheadedness, Dizziness, Headaches

Cardiovascular disease can also cause lightheadedness, dizziness and headaches. Lightheadedness and dizziness can occur alone or they may be accompanied by severe headaches. These symptoms occur when you experience a significant drop in your heart rate.

Cyanosis: Grayish or Bluish Skin Color

If you have cardiovascular disease, you may experience cyanosis, a grayish or bluish color to the skin or mucus membranes (lips, eyelids, nail beds and/or gums) that occurs when your blood oxygen levels drop. Cyanosis can present suddenly or it can develop gradually. In some cases, it is accompanied by shortness of breath.

Edema: Swelling

Another symptom commonly associated with cardiovascular disease is edema or swelling. Edema is especially noticeable during the early stages of cardiovascular disease. It typically affects your hands, legs and ankles, but it can also affect your facial tissues, fingers and abdomen. Edema occurs when excess fluid collects around your heart and travels throughout your body, causing swelling in your tissues.

Fatigue

One of the most common symptoms of cardiovascular disease is fatigue. Cardiovascular diseases can tire you out and make it difficult for you to climb stairs or even move around. This symptom occurs as your body tries to regulate your heartbeat. The extra work, along with excess fluid in your body can cause you to feel weak and extremely tired with little to no movement.

Pain and Numbness in the Left Hand

Symptoms like pain and numbness in the left hand is often associated with cardiovascular disease. In fact, it is sometimes used to indicate early cardiovascular disease or an impending heart attack. You may experience pain and numbness in your left hand as a result of a blood vessel and valve disorder. It is important to note that the pain and numbness may initially start in the left hand and radiate to your left arm and/or shoulder. In addition, it may be accompanied by throat pain, shortness of breath and/or pressure behind your breastbone.

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References:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Heart disease – Signs and symptoms. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/HeartDisease/signs_symptoms.htm

Medline Plus. (2013). Heart disease. Retrieved from:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/heartdiseases.html#cat6

Medline Plus. (2013). Coronary heart disease. Retrieved from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007115.htm

NY Times. (2013). Coronary heart disease. Retrieved from: http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/coronary-heart-disease/overview.html

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