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Heart Disease Health Center

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Symptoms of Heart Disease

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Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a type of arrhythmia. Most people with AF experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Heart palpitations (a sudden pounding, fluttering, or racing feeling in the heart)
  • Lack of energy
  • Dizziness (feeling faint or light-headed)
  • Chest discomfort (pain, pressure, or discomfort in the chest)
  • Shortness of breath (difficulty breathing during normal activities)

Some patients with atrial fibrillation have no symptoms. Episodes may be brief.

Symptoms of Heart Valve Disease

Symptoms of heart valve disease may include:

  • Shortness of breath and/or difficulty catching your breath; you may notice this most when you are doing your normal daily activities or when you lie down flat in bed.
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Discomfort in your chest; you may feel a pressure or weight in your chest with activity or when going out in cold air.
  • Palpitations (this may feel like a rapid heart rhythm, irregular heartbeat, skipped beats, or a flip-flop feeling in your chest.)

If valve disease causes heart failure, symptoms may include:

  • Swelling of your ankles or feet; swelling may also occur in your abdomen, which may cause you to feel bloated.
  • Quick weight gain (a weight gain of two or three pounds in one day is possible.)

Symptoms of heart valve disease do not always relate to the seriousness of your condition. You may have no symptoms at all and have severe valve disease, requiring prompt treatment. Or, as with mitral valve prolapse, you may have severe symptoms, yet tests may show minor valve disease.

Symptoms of Heart Failure

Symptoms of heart failure can include:

  • Shortness of breath noted during activity (most commonly) or at rest, especially when you lie down flat in bed
  • Cough that produces white sputum.
  • Rapid weight gain (a weight gain of two or three pounds in one day is possible.)
  • Swelling in ankles, legs, and abdomen
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeats
  • Other symptoms include nausea, palpitations, and chest pain.

Like valve disease, heart failure symptoms may not be related to how weak your heart is. You may have many symptoms, but your heart function may be only mildly weakened. Or you may have a severely damaged heart, with few or no symptoms.

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