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Heart Disease Symptoms

Symptoms of Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart defects may be diagnosed before birth, right after birth, during childhood, or not until adulthood. It is possible to have congenital heart disease and no symptoms at all. In adults, if symptoms are present, they may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Limited ability to exercise
  • Symptoms of heart failure (see above) or valve disease (see above)

Symptoms of Congenital Heart Disease in Infants and Children

If an infant or child has congenital heart disease, the symptoms can include:

  • Cyanosis (a bluish tint to the skin, fingernails, and lips)
  • Fast breathing and poor feeding
  • Poor weight gain
  • Recurrent lung infections
  • Inability to exercise

Symptoms of Heart Muscle Disease (Cardiomyopathy)

Many people with heart muscle disease, or cardiomyopathy, have no symptoms or only minor symptoms, and live a normal life. Other people develop symptoms, which progress and worsen as heart function worsens.

Cardiomyopathy symptoms can occur at any age and may include:

  • Chest pain or pressure (occurs usually with exercise or physical activity, but can also occur with rest or after meals)
  • Heart failure symptoms (see above)
  • Swelling of the lower extremities
  • Fatigue
  • Fainting
  • Palpitations (fluttering in the chest due to abnormal heart rhythms)

Some people also have arrhythmias. These can lead to sudden death in a small number of people with cardiomyopathy.

Symptoms of Pericarditis

When present, symptoms of pericarditis may include:

  • Chest pain. This pain is different from angina (pain caused by coronary artery disease. It may be sharp and located in the center of the chest. The pain may radiate to the neck and occasionally, the arms and back. It is made worse when lying down, taking a deep breath in, coughing, or swallowing and relieved by sitting forward.
  • Low-grade fever.

  • Increased heart rate.

Because many of the symptoms associated with each type of heart disease are similar, it is important to see your doctor so that you can receive a correct diagnosis and prompt treatment.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on January 16, 2015
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