Coronary Artery Disease Symptoms
The most common sign or symptom of heart disease (coronary artery disease) is angina pectoris, which often is referred to as chest pain. It can be described as chest pain, discomfort, heaviness, tightness, pressure, aching, burning, numbness, fullness, or squeezing in the chest area.
Other symptoms can include:
- Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body including the arms, shoulders, upper back, neck, jaw or stomach
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Sweating or breaking out in a “cold sweat”
- Fullness, indigestion, or choking feeling (may feel like “heartburn”)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Light-headedness, dizziness, or flu-like symptoms
- Rapid or irregular heart beats
- Extreme fatigue or weakness, especially with exertion
If you have chest discomfort or any of the symptoms listed above that last for more than five minutes, CALL 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY and seek medical attention. These symptoms could be the sign of a heart attack, also called myocardial infarction, or MI, and immediate treatment is essential.
The symptoms of coronary artery disease and heart attack can be different for women than they are in men. Women are also less likely to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack and seek treatment. The most common symptoms of heart disease in women are:
- Pain or pressure over the chest that travels to the arm or jaw
- A burning sensation in the chest or upper abdomen
- Shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, sweating, fatigue and nausea.
On average, symptoms of heart disease appear 10 years later in women than men.
In addition, women often report their symptoms before having a heart attack, although the symptoms are not typical “heart” symptoms. In a multi-center study of 515 women who had an acute myocardial infarction (MI), the most frequently reported symptoms were unusual fatigue, sleep disturbances, shortness of breath, indigestion and anxiety. The majority of women (78 percent) reported at least one symptom for more than one month before their heart attack. Only 30 percent reported chest discomfort, which was described as an aching, tightness, pressure, sharpness, burning, fullness or tingling.
For more information about Women’s Heart Services call 480-323-3663.
(Reference: McSweeney J, Cody M, O’Sullivan P, Elberson K, Moser D, Garvin B. Women’s Early Warning Symptoms of Acute Myocardial Infarction. Circulation. 2003; 108(21):2619-2623)