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Early Signs of Heart Problems

by
author image Marie Cheour
Marie Cheour had her first article published in 1995, and she has since published more than 40 articles in peer-reviewed publications such as "Nature" and "Nature Neuroscience." She has worked as a college professor in Europe and in the United States. Cheour has a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from the University of Helsinki.
Early Signs of Heart Problems
Several symptoms of heart disease are hard to recognize. Photo Credit Heart attack image by JASON WINTER from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Usually, heart problems develop slowly and remain undetected until a drastic event, such as a heart attack. Diseases of the heart are often silent killers and exhibit few, elusive symptoms. Knowing such things as risk factors, your blood pressure levels and common side effects can mean the difference between early diagnosis and death. If heart problems are caught early, the prognosis for most patients is good. In these cases, exercise and a proper diet are often enough, but failing to detect these types of illnesses can have deadly results.

Dyspnea

Dyspnea is the medical term describing shortness of breath. For people developing heart problems, this symptom is often their first sign of trouble. This is especially true of those about to have a heart attack. There are problems, however, in using dyspnea as the sole symptom to determine if someone suffers from a heart condition. Not everyone experiences shortness of breath even if they have a heart problem, the severity of the condition varies and anyone can misinterpret these signs.

Chest Pain

Several heart-related conditions, along with other diseases, can cause a feeling of pressure or pain in the center of the chest. This type of pain is often one of the first symptoms of a heart attack and is the second most common symptom of heart trouble. Chest pain usually comes and goes and is much milder than what television and movies show it as. The pain can also reach elsewhere in the body, into areas like the shoulders, arms, back and jaw. Any pain in these areas that lasts for more than two minutes is often a serious sign and should not be taken lightly.

Palpitations

A palpitation is a condition where an individual becomes aware of his heartbeat. This is different from the pounding a person feels after a jog or some other form of heavy exercise. People who have experienced palpitations often describe the feeling as a thumping, fluttering sensation where the heart skips beats or seems to be working much harder than usual. Most people experience palpitations during stress and anxiety, not exercise, and often experience panic attacks or hyperventilation at the same time. It's often this symptom that finally convinces people to schedule a doctor's appointment.

Fatigue

Another common symptom exhibited by people with heart problems is a feeling of tiredness. While it might be common, it also creates a host of problems in diagnosis. Everyone experiences fatigue at some point, the symptom goes unnoticed most of the time and how tired people feel varies. Usually, feeling more and more tired as the day progresses, eating poorly and having heavy legs are red flags and could possibly predict a heart condition. If a patient complains of any of these, doctors often have reason to suspect problems.

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