How Does Heart Disease Happen - Spotting The Signs

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Brian Whitt By Brian Whitt | Author

Identifying The Onset Of Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease, or CHD, can present differently in men and women. In some cases, women do not have any symptoms of the disease. When that happens, it is known as silent coronary heart disease.

With silent CHD, a woman may not realize what is happening until a serious situation presents itself, like an irregular heartbeat, heart failure or even a heart attack. This is not the case for all women with CHD, though, as many do experience a variety of signs and symptoms of coronary heart disease. The information presented here will help you understand what you need to look for so that you can properly treat your condition as soon as possible.

1What Does A Heart Attack "Look" Like?

Chest pain is the number one symptom of a heart attack. It is important to realize, however, that only about fifty percent of women that have a heart attack will experience chest pain. Instead, women may feel pain in the neck or back and experience heartburn, indigestion, tiredness, vomiting, difficulty breathing or nausea.

A heart attack can also affect the upper stomach, the jaw, neck, back, and arms. Women also report feeling dizzy or lightheaded more often than men during a heart attack. Instead, men are more likely to indicate that they feel pain in their left arm, and they are more likely to experience a cold sweat than women.

2Identifying An Arrhythmia

When the heart does not beat normally, it is called an arrhythmia. This condition can cause the heart to beat faster than normal, slower than normal or simply at an irregular pace. Many people feel as though their heart is skipping, thumping or fluttering. These sensations are known as palpitations.

Arrhythmias are dangerous because they can make the heart stop beating. This is known as SCA or sudden cardiac arrest. Individuals experiencing SCA can die if they do not receive proper treatment. Arrhythmia tends to just be a nuisance, but it is a condition that should be monitored by a cardiologist to ensure that you stay as healthy as possible.

3Recognizing Heart Failure

Heart failure occurs when the heart does not pump efficiently and the body does not get what it needs. It is important to note that the heart does not shut down if you have this condition. It simply means that the heart is unable to keep up with what is happening with the body on a daily basis.

There are certain symptoms to look for with respect to heart failure, like tiredness and shortness of breath. Your extremities may swell, and the abdomen and neck veins can swell as well. Certain conditions make heart failure more likely, including obesity, high blood pressure, alcohol abuse, smoking, sleep apnea, a diet high in salt and animal fat and a lack of exercise.

4What Is Broken Heart Syndrome?

If you have shortness of breath and chest pain, you may be experiencing broken heart syndrome. Broken heart syndrome typically affects those that do not have any prior issues with heart disease. It is not uncommon for cardiogenic shock or arrhythmias to afflict the patient as well. Cardiogenic shock occurs when the heart, which is damaged in some way, can't pump enough blood to keep up with the demands of the body.

There are several ways to tell broken heart syndrome apart from a heart attack. Symptoms of broken heart syndrome usually present themselves after the individual in question has had a very stressful experience, and the EKG results for this syndrome look different than the EKG results for a heart attack. An EKG takes a close look at the electrical activity of the heart.

5Recognizing Coronary Microvascular Disease

MVD, or coronary microvascular disease, is a heart condition impacting the tiny coronary arteries. The walls of the tiny arteries are not healthy. While it is easy to confuse the two, coronary heart disease is not the same as coronary microvascular disease. The large coronary arteries are affected in CHD, which happens as a result of a plaque build up. As was mentioned before, with coronary MVD, the problem lies with the tiny arteries of the heart, making these two similar sounding conditions quite different.

Women with coronary microvascular disease often experience severe chest pain when performing routine activities, like cleaning or child care. Women are more likely than men to be negatively affected by mental stress, as it can cause an onset of serious chest pain. The intensity of the angina is different from person to person. The condition can change as more plaque builds up near the heart, causing chest pain to occur more frequently or causing it to be more intense.

6Symptoms Of Coronary Heart Disease

Chest pain often goes hand in hand with CHD. Also called angina, it happens when the heart isn't getting the blood that it needs. Men often report that it feels like there is pressure in their chest. This pressure, or squeezing sensation, can happen in the arms as well.

Women experience chest pain, too. However, it often feels more like a burning sensation to women. They also tend to feel it in their back, abdomen, throat, jaw, and neck. Most men can help manage their angina by getting rest when they feel the symptoms occurring. Women, though, may feel chest pain when they sit or lay down to relax.

You may not realize that there is something wrong with your heart. Not everyone experiences the symptoms commonly associated with heart disease. You won't necessarily feel pain and recognize that you need to get to a doctor, either. And, if you do feel pain, it may not be near your heart.

Hopefully, you now know more about heart disease and the related conditions. When you know more about what to look for, you can make sure that you get medical help if you need it.