Would You Know if You had Heart Disease?
If you had heart disease, would you know it?
It is possible to have heart disease and not realize it because not all cardiac problems come with clear warning signs. Heart disease does not always cause someone to clutch at their chest and fall immediately to the ground, as depicted in the movies. In many cases, heart disease causes no symptoms at all. To make matters even more confusing, some symptoms that do appear don’t even happen in your chest.
It is even possible to have a heart attack and not realize it. In fact, the classic symptom of a heart attack – crushing chest pain – happens only about 50 percent of the time, according to Harvard Medical School. Some people describe their symptoms as chest pressure or discomfort, while others feel an intense crushing pain or deep ache.
This is especially true for women, as females tend to experience different symptoms during a heart attack than do men. Women may or may not feel chest pressure that feels like an elephant sitting on their chests, according to the American Heart Association, but instead may experience shortness of breath, pain or pressure in their lower chests, abdomens or backs. Some women experience extreme fatigue, lightheadedness, dizziness or fainting.
Would You Know if You Had Other Cardiac Problems?
What about heart disease other than heart attacks? Would you know if you had cardiac problems?
There are several types of heart disease, including irregular heartbeat known as arrhythmia, coronary artery disease in the heart’s major blood vessels, and congestive heart failure where the heart does a poor job of pumping blood.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common type of cardiac problem. It does not cause symptoms, so many health professionals refer to hypertension as “the silent killer.”
The most common signs of heart disease, according to Johns Hopkins, are a rapid heartbeat, chest pains and difficulty breathing. Furthermore, cardiac problems may cause pain in your jaw, neck, back or arms, although this is more common in females.
You may know you have heart disease if you have certain risk factors for cardiac problems. These risk factors include having belly fat, being overweight and having diabetes. Metabolic syndrome, which is a group of conditions that include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and excess body fat around the middle, is another risk factor for cardiac disease.
If you had heart disease and visited your doctor regularly, though, you probably would know if you had cardiovascular disease. Your doctor reviews your personal and family health history, performs a physical examination, asks about your symptoms and runs various tests to assess your risk for heart problems.
For more information about the symptoms of heart disease, or to find out if you have cardiac problems, make an appointment with your doctor or cardiologist. The more you know about heart disease and its symptoms, the better you will be at recognizing the signs of cardiac problems.