Early Warning Symptoms of Heart Disease

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Heart disease isn't just a single condition but a comprehensive term used for a number of diseases involving the heart. It may entail a narrowing of the blood vessels, a thickening of the heart muscles or an inconsistency of the aortic valve. Discrepancies in rhythm or defects at birth are both forms of heart disease. Even an infection of the heart can bring about this type of diagnosis. Regardless of the form, most people are subject to early warning signs of the condition since any sort of disease involving the heart inevitably affects the flow of blood and the function of the heart.

  1. Asymptomatic

    • Though many people experience early warning symptoms of heart disease, it isn't uncommon for a person to suffer no symptoms at all, especially when the disease is caused by a thickening of the heart muscles or a narrowing of the blood vessels. It isn't until the condition has advanced, sometimes to a life-threatening level, that symptoms emerge.

    Breathlessness

    • Of all the early warning signs of heart disease, breathlessness is one of the more common. Even in the earlier stages of heart disease, diseases involving the blood vessels, muscles, valves and other divergences, like arrhythmias, infections and defects, can cause breathlessness. This is largely because of the decrease in oxygen that occurs from any narrowing, thickening or insufficient closures of the heart. This marked shortness of breath often is triggered by physical exertion during the early stages of the disease, but may arise at times of rest. In some cases, this breathlessness also is accompanied by a dry and unproductive cough.

    Rhythmic Disturbances

    • Another common early warning symptom of heart disease involves a disturbance in the actual rhythm of the heart. Valvular heart diseases, caridomyopathy, arrhythmias and infections all can cause a person's heart to undergo a change in rhythm. Some people begin to experience moments where the heart races, pounds or flutters. For others, it manifests as an uneven or irregular heartbeat. Heart disease also can cause the heart to slow or murmur, which is essentially a backflow of blood that causes a "whoosh" to be heard and felt.

    Fatigue

    • Heart disease also causes the early warning symptom of fatigue. When someone suffers from a disease of the valve or muscle as well as an infection or arrhythmia, even at the onset of the disease, he may begin to notice an unexplained sense of fatigue. And much like breathlessness, this fatigue can set in after physical activity or during times of rest. For some, the fatigue manifests as more of a weakness, dizziness or faintness with no sense of exhaustion at all.

    Pain

    • Sometimes, an early warning sign of heart disease is pain, namely in disorders of the blood vessels and valves or with arrhythmic divergences. However, this pain isn't necessarily a sharp, shooting ache but instead a tightness, pressure or dull discomfort within the chest.

    Swelling

    • On occasion, early stages of heart disease may cause swelling. This swelling is usually isolated to the hands, feet, ankles and legs, and associated with diseases of the valves and muscles as well as those caused by infections or defects. With defects, this swelling also might manifest in the abdomen and eyes.

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