Heart Disease | Symptoms and Treatment for Coronary Artery Diseases


Heart disease is a general name for a wide variety of diseases, disorders and conditions that affect the heart and sometimes the blood vessels as well. Heart disease is the number one killer of women and men in the United States, and more than a million Americans have myocardial infarctions, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood institute.

Symptoms of Heart Diseases:

Chest Pain or Chest Discomfort


Few symptoms are more alarming than chest pain. In the minds of many people, chest pain equals heart pain. And while many other conditions can cause chest pain, cardiac disease is so common – and so dangerous – that the symptom of chest pain should never be dismissed out of hand as being insignificant.


Heart Palpitations


Palpitations, an unusual awareness of the heartbeat, is an extremely common symptom. Most people who complain of palpitations describe them either as “skips” in the heartbeat (that is, a pause, often followed by a particularly strong beat,) or as periods of rapid and/or irregular heartbeats.


Lightheadedness or Dizziness


Episodes of lightheadedness or dizziness can have many causes, including anemia (low blood count) and other blood disorders, dehydration, viral illnesses, prolonged bed rest, diabetes, thyroid disease, gastrointestinal disturbances, liver disease, kidney disease, vascular disease, neurological disorders, dysautonomias, vasovagal episodes, heart failure and cardiac arrhythmias. Because so many different conditions can produce these symptoms, anybody experiencing episodes of lightheadedness or dizziness ought to have a thorough and complete examination by a physician. And since disorders of so many organ systems can cause these symptoms, a good general internist or family doctor may be the best place to start.


Syncope (Fainting/Loss of Consciousness)


Syncope is a sudden and temporary loss of consciousness, or fainting. It is a common symptom – most people pass out at least once in their lives – and often does not indicate a serious medical problem. However, sometimes syncope indicates a dangerous or even life-threatening condition, so when syncope occurs it is important to figure out the cause.


Fatigue, Lethargy or Daytime Sleepiness


Fatigue, lethargy or somnolence (daytime sleepiness) are very common symptoms. Fatigue or lethargy can be thought of as an inability to continue functioning at one’s normal levels. Somnolence implies, in addition, that one either craves sleep – or worse, finds oneself suddenly asleep, a condition known as narcolepsy – during the daytime.


Shortness of Breath


Shortness of breath is most often a symptom of cardiac or pulmonary (lung) disorders. Heart failure and coronary artery disease frequently produce shortness of breath. Patients with heart failure commonly experience shortness of breath with exertion, or when lying flat on their backs. They also can suddenly wake up at night gasping for breath, a condition known as paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea. Other cardiac conditions such as valvular heart disease or pericardial disease can produce this symptom, as can cardiac arrhythmias.


Treating Heart Disease:

Coronary Artery Disease


Surviving and thriving after you have coronary artery disease means both you and your doctor have to do the right things. Here’s what you need to know about coronary artery disease, angina, and heart attacks.


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Heart Failure


Study after study show two things: 1) receiving appropriate treatment for heart failure makes you feel better and live longer, and 2) many doctors fail to give the appropriate therapy. Here’s what you need to know.


Heart Rhythm Problems


A primer on the cardiac arrhythmias – PVCs, atrial fibrillation, SVT, IST, and other heart arrhythmias – their causes, the symptoms they produce, and how they should be treated.