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Heart Disease Health Center

Understanding Heart Disease -- Symptoms

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Arrhythmias

Arrhythmia symptoms may include:

  • Palpitations (a feeling of skipped heart beats, fluttering or "flip-flops," or feeling that your heart is "running away")
  • Pounding in your chest
  • Dizziness, feeling lightheaded, or fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest discomfort
  • Weakness or fatigue

 

Heart Valve Disease

Symptoms of heart valve disease may include:

  • Shortness of breath and/or difficulty catching your breath
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Discomfort in your chest during an activity
  • Palpitations that 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, feet, or abdomen
  • Quick weight gain (a weight gain of two or three pounds in one day is possible)

Symptoms do not always relate to the seriousness of your valve disease. You may have no symptoms at all and have severe valve disease, or you may have severe symptoms but minor valve disease. Often, the first sign of valve problems is a heart murmur that is found incidentally during a routine physical examination.

 

Congenital Heart Disease

In adults, if symptoms of congenital heart disease are present, they may include:

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

 

Congenital Heart Disease in Infants and Children

Symptoms of congenital heart disease in infants and children may 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 

Heart Muscle Disease (Cardiomyopathy)

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

Symptoms of cardiomyopathy 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)

Sudden death can occur in a small number of people with cardiomyopathy.

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