While some heart attacks may be sudden and dramatic, many more start slowly, stemming from long-term heart disease in which symptoms may have shown themselves over time. There are many conditions and symptoms that fall under the term of heart disease.Chest Pain Chest pain is the most recognizable symptom of heart disease. Those who've suffered a heart attack often describe the pain as pressure or squeezing in the chest area that can expand into the neck or upper abdomen. Chest pains can last from one second up to weeks, occurring sporadically or predictably.Heart Palpitations Heart palpitations are described as a 'skip' in the heartbeat. This skip is felt as a short pause followed by an exceptionally strong beat. Heart palpitations can also be felt as a rapid or irregular heartbeat. This is one of the most common symptoms of coronary heart disease and should be checked out by a doctor immediately.Lightheadedness or Fainting Lightheadedness, dizziness and fainting can have many causes, including anemia, dehydration, or viral illnesses. However, when these symptoms occur together and frequently, they may indicate heart disease. Anybody experiencing lightheadedness or a sudden loss or consciousness should see a doctor for a complete examination.
Fatigue and Lethargy
Fatigue and lethargy are very common with coronary heart disease, expressing a person's inability to continue functioning at normal levels. These symptoms can also be non-specific symptoms that are signs of disorders completely unrelated to heart disease. Any experience with unusual fatigue or lethargy, especially with daytime sleepiness, should be evaluated by a doctor.
Shortness of Breath
Heart disease and heart failure often causes a person to experience shortness of breath. Additionally, people with heart failure will be short of breath when exerting any energy, when lying flat on their backs or sometimes when sleeping at night. There are a number of lung disorders that can also cause shortness of breath.
It's important to know your risk for heart disease. Risk factors include family history, smoking, high blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and obesity.
Sources: http://heartdisease.about.com/od/coronaryarterydisease/a/heartsymptoms.htm; http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=539