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Symptoms

Many people have no early symptoms of heart or vascular disease. When they do occur, some symptoms point clearly to one condition. Other symptoms are general and vague—possibly due to any number of diseases.

The most common symptoms of heart disease are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness or difficulty exercising
  • Fatigue (being tired all the time)
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach)
  • Dizziness, fainting, or loss of balance
  • Chest pain, pressure, tightness, squeezing, or discomfort—can be mild or severe, come and go (angina or heart attack)
  • Palpitations (fluttering or skipped heartbeats)
  • Faster or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • Stopped heartbeat (cardiac arrest)
  • Fluid build-up in feet, ankles, legs (edema)

The most common symptoms of vascular disease are:

  • Leg or calf pain or leg cramping while walking (intermittent claudication)
  • Leg pain or numbness even while at rest
  • Ulcers on the feet, legs, or toes
  • Wounds or sores that do not heal after 2 weeks
  • Leg swelling or painful varicose veins
  • Sudden weakness or numbness in face or limbs; trouble speaking, understanding, seeing, dizziness; severe headache (mini-stroke, transient ischemic attack, or stroke)
  • Throbbing feeling or pain in abdomen, back, or side
  • Pain in jaw, neck, back, or chest with coughing, hoarseness

There is a lot of overlap and variation in how these symptoms are felt by patients and described. Some people have both heart and vascular disease. Only a doctor can determine the exact cause of your symptoms. By being aware of symptoms, you can see a doctor sooner and get earlier treatment to prevent a heart attack, strokes, and other serious conditions.