Coronary heart disease (CHD), also known as ischemic heart disease, is a condition in which plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries, which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. This buildup of plaque can cause the arteries to become narrow, reducing blood flow to the heart and increasing the risk of heart attack and other complications.
CHD can develop gradually over time and may not always show noticeable symptoms until a significant amount of damage has already occurred. However, there are some warning signs that may indicate the presence of CHD, and it’s important to be aware of them in order to seek timely medical attention.
Here are some of the most common warning signs of CHD:
- Chest pain or discomfort: This is one of the most common symptoms of CHD. Chest pain may feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of the chest. It may also feel like a burning sensation or a tightness in the chest. This pain can last for a few minutes or longer, and it may be triggered by physical activity, emotional stress, or exposure to cold weather.
It’s important to note that not all chest pain is a sign of CHD, and there are other conditions that can cause chest pain, such as heartburn, anxiety, or a muscle strain. However, if you experience chest pain or discomfort, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as shortness of breath or sweating, it’s important to seek medical attention right away.
- Shortness of breath: This is another common symptom of CHD. Shortness of breath may be a sign that your heart is not getting enough oxygen, and it may occur during physical activity or even at rest. You may feel out of breath, like you can’t catch your breath, or like you’re suffocating. This symptom can be mild or severe, and it may be accompanied by chest pain, fatigue, or coughing.
If you experience shortness of breath, especially if it is sudden or severe, it’s important to seek medical attention right away, as it may be a sign of a heart attack or other serious condition.
- Fatigue: Feeling excessively tired or run-down is another common symptom of CHD. Fatigue may be a sign that your heart is not pumping enough blood to meet your body’s needs, and it may occur even if you haven’t been physically active. You may feel like you can’t do your usual activities, like climbing stairs or walking to the store. You may also feel like you need to take frequent breaks or rest periods throughout the day.
If you experience fatigue that doesn’t go away with rest or that is affecting your ability to perform your usual activities, it’s important to seek medical attention to determine the underlying cause.
- Irregular heartbeats: Feeling that your heart is skipping a beat, beating too fast or too slow, or pounding in your chest may be a sign of CHD. These irregular heartbeats, also known as arrhythmias, can occur due to a variety of factors, including stress, physical activity, caffeine, or alcohol.
While some arrhythmias are harmless, others can be serious and may increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. If you experience irregular heartbeats, especially if they are accompanied by other symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath, it’s important to seek medical attention right away.
- Nausea, dizziness, or lightheadedness: Feeling sick to your stomach, dizzy, or lightheaded may be a sign of CHD. These symptoms may occur due to a drop in blood pressure, which can result from reduced blood flow to the heart. You may also feel like you’re going to faint or like the room is spinning.