Symptoms of coronary artery disease
The most common symptoms of
coronary artery disease are:
Other symptoms include:
Symptoms of heart attack
For men and women, the most common symptom is chest
pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to have other
symptoms like shortness of breath, nausea, and back or jaw pain.
Women are also more likely than men to delay seeking help for a possible
heart attack. Women delay for many reasons, like not being sure it is a heart
attack, or not wanting to bother others. But it is better to be safe than
sorry. If you have symptoms of a possible heart attack that last for 5 minutes,
call 911 right away.
For more information about prevention and treatment of coronary artery disease in women, see the topic
Women and Coronary Artery Disease.
Unfortunately, sometimes a
heart attack is the first sign of coronary artery
Some people who have coronary
artery disease and insufficient blood flow to the heart muscle (ischemia) do
not have any symptoms. This is called "silent ischemia." In rare instances, you
can even have a "silent heart attack," a heart attack without symptoms.
Angina (chest pain or discomfort)
Chest pain or discomfort, also called angina, is the most common symptom of coronary
artery disease. Angina may have a distinct pattern. Angina can be described
- A feeling of pressure, heaviness, weight, tightness, squeezing,
discomfort, burning, or dull aching in the chest. People often put their fist
to their chest when describing the pain.
- Hard to pinpoint (you can't point to the exact location of the
pain). Pressing on the chest wall does not cause the
The chest pain of angina usually begins at a low level,
then increases over several minutes to a peak. Angina that starts with an
activity usually will decrease when the activity is stopped. Chest pain that
begins suddenly or lasts only a few seconds is less likely to be angina.
Angina usually begins in the chest, but it can also start in or spread to
different areas of the body, such as:
- Down the left arm (most common site).
- To the left shoulder.
- To the neck or lower jaw.
- To the mid-back.
- Down the right arm.