What Do These Early Symptoms Typically Look Like
Dr. Xu says the majority of patients experience somewhat typical symptoms, such as radiating chest pain, heaviness or discomfort, heart palpitations, cold sweats, and shortness of breath. Others — women more so than men — will experience some atypical symptoms as well, which may include fatigue, a general sense of unease, vague discomfort, back or abdominal pain and declining stamina. Both types of symptoms can be experienced months before an actual heart attack occurs.
Take Care Of Your Mental Health
Living with heart disease may cause fear, anxiety, depression, and stress. You may worry about having heart problems or making lifestyle changes that are necessary for your health. Talk with your healthcare team about how you feel. Your doctor may talk to you about:
- Talking to a professional counselor. If you have depression or anxiety, your doctor also may recommend medicines or other treatments that can improve your quality of life.
- Joining a patient support group. This may help you adjust to living with heart disease. You can find out how other people manage similar symptoms. Your doctor may be able to recommend local support groups, or you can check with an area medical center.
- Seeking support from family and friends. Letting your loved ones know how you feel and what they can do to help you can help relieve stress and anxiety.
Lightheadedness Dizziness And Other Pain
Where the differences between the sexes lie is that women have more shortness of breath, or nausea and vomiting than men, Hayes added. Women also more frequently have pain in the neck, jaw, throat, abdomen or back, the CDC notes.
Nerve fibers in the arm and jaw run together with the cardiac nerve fibers to the brain, so you may feel pain in those areas because your brain confuses the pain signal from the heart, Haythe noted.
Breaking out in a cold sweat, dizziness or lightheadedness can also be warning signs, the American Heart Association warns.
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Nausea Or Lack Of Appetite
Nausea, indigestion, vomiting, or abdominal swelling can occur during a heart attack. Sometimes the poor circulation due to a weak heart or blocked arteries can cause these symptoms. This is common in women, and often gets worse with activity and improves with rest. If you are experiencing nausea or lack of appetite that follows this pattern, see your doctor.
Heavy Or Labored Breathing
Being short of breath or having labored breathing, especially while at rest, can be a sign of heart attack or heart failure when the heart function is not normal. It can also be a sign of certain arrhythmias.
Get it checked out, Haythe said, especially if its a new phenomenon or others are making note of it.
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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
- 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.
Talk To Our Womens Health Care Provider If You Feel Unusually Tired
With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, of course we sometimes feel tired! However, there are some signs that you shouldnt ignore your fatigue. For example, if youre suddenly and overwhelmingly tired without understanding why, this could be something more serious than needing a nap or an extra few hours of sleep.
Some other fatigue symptoms you shouldnt ignore include:
- Youre suddenly exhausted after doing your normal exercise routine
- You feel tired or your chest feels heavy even if youre not exerting yourself
- Simple activities, like making your bed, wear you out
- You feel extremely tired, but are still having a hard time sleeping
These symptoms can signal that something may not be quite right with your health. For example, extreme fatigue can be a symptom of vitamin deficiencies, anemia, and other health conditions. It can also be a sign of heart disease or an impending heart attack.
Unfortunately, many women ignore these signs to seek womens health care. We might chalk them up to aging, a busy schedule, or stress. However, if youre not feeling like yourself, its always better to be safe than sorry and get checked out.
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Study Design And Participants
This study was performed with a cross-sectional design using a 20-item self-report questionnaire called the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory.Reference Smets, Garssen and Bonke14 The questionnaire was sent by postal mail to 463 adult patients with a planned follow-up at Skåne University hospital in Lund, Sweden or Umeå University Hospital, Sweden . The patients were identified by the Swedish Registry of Congenital Heart Disease which is a national registry that consists of four parts: foetal heart diagnostics, paediatric cardiology, adults with congenital heart disease, and congenital heart surgery. The purpose of the register is to provide information about the natural course and treatments for different congenital heart conditions.
All participants gave their written informed consent. The study was approved by the Regional Ethics Review Board in Umeå, Sweden . The investigation conforms to the principles outlined in the Declaration of Helsinki.Reference Rickham19
Tiredness Could Indicate A Problem With Your Heart
According to the National Institutes of Health, 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep or wakefulness disorders. If youre between the ages of 18 and 64 and are getting the National Sleep Foundation’s recommended 7 to 9 hours of 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night but are still tired, your fatigue could be a symptom of a medical condition such as allergies, depression, cancer, or even a serious heart condition.
Many women don’t think they’re at risk for heart disease because of their gender, but heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women. The age factor can also be misleading: Research from the American Heart Association shows that the number of heart attacks among younger people is increasing, and among younger women in particular.
Take our free Heart Risk Assessment to see if youre at risk for heart disease.
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After You Call Emergency Services
When you call emergency services, the dispatcher may ask you about the medicines you take and your allergies. If you dont currently take a blood thinner and you arent allergic to aspirin, the dispatcher may advise you to chew an aspirin while youre waiting on medical attention. If you have nitroglycerin tablets, you may also wish to use these as directed by your doctor to reduce chest pain.
If you have a list of medications you currently take or any information about your medical history, you may wish to take this information with you. It can speed your medical care.
Possible Heart Symptoms Never To Ignore
If you notice any of the symptoms discussed in this slide show, see your doctor or go to an emergency department right away. If you have any risk factors for heart disease it is especially important to pay attention to your body and get any symptoms checked out by a doctor. Getting prompt medical attention may save your life!
- American Heart Association: “Warning Signs of Heart Failure.”
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America : “How Can I Tell If I’m Having a Panic Attack Or a Heart Attack?”
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What Diet And Lifestyle Management Techniques Help Heart Failure
Many lifestyle and diet factors can improve, or even reverse, congestive heart failure. Cardiac rehabilitation programs can teach people how to make lifestyle changes, as can integrative cardiology clinics. Some of the lifestyle factors that make a difference include:
- Manage stress by doing mind-body practices such as Tai Chi, yoga, Qi Gong, and meditation
- Take dietary supplementsincluding CoQ10, L-carnitine, Crataegus , magnesium, and fish oil
- Avoiding salt and excess fluids
Talk to your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements.
Diagnostic Tests To Determine Heart Attack Risk
If there is a worry that the heart is involved, you may undergo a screening test known as an electrocardiogram, or EKG. This recording of the hearts electrical activity can give information regarding not only heart rhythm problems but also heart artery disease and abnormalities in the heart chambers.
An abnormal EKG can mean many things, and not all of them are negative. Some people have a variation in their heart rhythm thats normal for them this will not affect their health now or in the future. But it can also indicate something more serious, like medication side effects, that your heart is beating too fast or slow, arrhythmia , and yes, sometimes a heart attack. If your provider believes there is a concern, youll know.
If an EKG is normal but your doctor still suspects a heart problem, he or she may order a stress test, which detects your hearts rhythm using electrodes taped to your chest while you exercise . This can help determine your risk of heart disease by looking at how much exercise it takes for the blood flow to your heart to decrease or for your hearts rhythm to become abnormal.
Depending on your doctors exam and analysis, youll likely receive one of three instructions:
Given the sometimes-confusing information that is out there, it makes sense to wonder if fatigue and heart attack are linked. If youre at all concerned, contact your health care provider to get to the bottom of it.
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Reason : You Arent Sleeping Well
If you feel exhausted after a bad night, imagine that every night is a bad night. Then youll know how people with sleep apnea feel every day.
Sleep apnea causes people to awaken hundreds of times a night, preventing them from getting deep, restorative sleep. Sleep apnea is common in heart failure. Once it is diagnosed, using a continuous positive airway pressure mask at night can restore a normal sleeping pattern and increase daytime energy.
As heart failure advances, some patients may not be able to breathe when they lie flat. This can interfere with normal sleep. Your heart-failure specialist can show you several sleeping positions that may make breathing and sleeping easier.
Chronically Tired Fatigue May Be A Sign Of Heart Problems
Heart disease is one of the number one killers in the United States. Our womens health care providers are here to help you stay healthy. Thats why were spreading the word about a subtle, but dangerous sign that you could have heart disease: fatigue.
Fatigue can stop you in your tracks and even signal serious problems like heart disease. Feeling abnormally tired? Talk to our womens health care provider.
Many of us mistakenly believe that heart disease is mainly a concern for men. However, women are also at risk for this serious health condition.
Here are some quick facts on heart disease in women:
- Heart disease is responsible for 1 in every 5 female deaths
- 1 in 16 women 20 years old or older have coronary artery disease
Women often experience different symptoms of heart disease than men, which can make it hard to notice early warning signs. If youre experiencing unexplained tiredness and fatigue, come to our womens health clinicto help find the root of the problem.
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Reason : Your Heart Needs Exercise
Your instinct may be to baby a heart damaged by heart failure, but the opposite is true.
Aerobic exercise strengthens all muscles in the body, including the heart, says Cardiac Rehabilitation Director Erik Van Iterson, PhD, MS.
A heart that pumps more strongly increases the delivery of oxygenated blood throughout the body, which your body needs to generate energy and battle fatigue. You can actually make yourself worse by doing nothing.
A cardiac rehabilitation program and guided exercise training therapy can put you on the right track, both physically and mentally. All heart failure patients need cardiac rehab, he says.
If you were not raised in a culture that promoted exercise, you may find the concept intimidating. Dr. Van Iterson emphasizes that any exercise you do will be beneficial.
Exercise means different things to different people. There is no one-size-fits-all model to follow, he says.
Attending a cardiac rehab program enables you to be assessed for the type of exercise that will be safe based on your age, experience, overall condition and the condition of your heart. You may never have thought that walking around your neighborhood would be beneficial, but if you are for example in your mid-70s, have heart failure and have never exercised before, it will be, says Dr. Van Iterson.
Be patient and stay motivated. You wont feel better overnight. It may take weeks or months of consistent exercise to feel the difference, says Dr. Van Iterson.
When To See A Doctor
Its never too early to see a doctor to discuss your risk for heart disease. In fact, the new primary prevention guidelines say that the earlier the risk factors for heart disease are prevented or treated, the less likely you are to develop heart disease later in life.
So, if youre concerned about your risk for heart disease, make an appointment to discuss how you can prevent this highly preventable condition. You can connect to a cardiologist in your area using the Healthline FindCare tool.
If youre having any symptoms at all, its very important to discuss these with your doctor as heart disease can masquerade in many different ways.
Its easy to dismiss many warning signs of heart disease like fatigue, indigestion, and shortness of breath as just a normal part of life or mild illness. But because a heart attack can happen suddenly, its important not to ignore any potential warning signs.
If you have any of the above symptoms of heart disease, especially if you also have risk factors, see a doctor.
- other specialized lipid tests
Other tests include:
A doctor might also suggest a continuous EKG or ambulatory arrhythmia monitor, where you wear a device that constantly records your hearts electrical signals. Depending on your symptoms, you might wear this device for a few days or a few weeks.
If these tests are inconclusive, you may need more invasive tests to diagnose heart disease. These include:
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How To Prevent Coronary Heart Disease
Studies show that heart-healthy livingnever smoking, eating healthy, and being physically activethroughout life can prevent coronary heart disease and its complications.
Work with your doctor to set up a plan that works for you based on your lifestyle, your home and neighborhood environments, and your culture. Working with a team of healthcare providers may help with making changes in your diet, being physically active, managing other medical conditions, and helping you quit smoking.
Reason : Are Beta Blockers Making You Tired
The anti-adrenaline effect of beta-blockers the very quality that makes them valuable for treating heart failure can make patients feel tired.
Most patients do not experience any side effects. But if you feel fatigued after starting your medicine, its important to do two things: Keep taking your medicine, and report your symptoms to your doctor. If you stop suddenly, you may risk having rebound adverse effects.
According to Dr. Taylor, understanding why beta-blockers must be taken often makes it easier to deal with this side effect. Once patients know the drug will improve their heart function, help them stay out of the hospital and live longer, most are willing to put up with a little fatigue, he says.
You and your physician can try to figure out if the symptoms are really a side effect or due to your heart problem or even possibly due to an unrelated condition such as sleep apnea. Usually, well adjust the medication dose or switch to an alternative medication and check if the side effects go away with time.
If he is able to wean the patient down or off the drug, and fatigue remains a problem, the beta-blocker is not to blame.
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Could Chronic Fatigue Mean Im At Risk Of A Heart Attack
Ever wonder why you have to fill out an intake form with symptoms and updates to your medical history every time you come in for an appointment? Your responses can help your provider zero in on what may be linked to the primary reason you came in, even if these seemingly innocuous questions dont mean that much to you. If you report fatigue, your provider may ask when it comes on, how often you feel fatigued, and how much it impairs your ability to complete everyday tasks.
For instance, if you feel tired all the time and struggle to complete daily activities that were once easy for you, like carrying groceries, climbing stairs, or walking, that may be a sign of something more serious. It could mean that your heart cant pump enough blood to meet your bodys demands. Your body first sends blood to the most vital organs , meaning that others, especially muscles in your limbs, move down the priority list. This could explain why some cases of fatigue indicate a heart concern.
If your doctor has any concern that your fatigue could be linked to something more serious than general tiredness, he or she can delve further, possibly through diagnostic tests or referring you to a specialist. If you are diagnosed with CFS, you doctor should monitor your heart health as a part of your ongoing treatment plan for the condition.