Heart disease can refer to several conditions that affect how well your heart can pump blood. However, the leading cause of heart disease is atherosclerosis, a buildup of plaque and fat deposits in the heart’s arterial walls. Over time, this buildup gradually accumulates and reduces the blood flow, restricting oxygen from reaching the heart.
When this occurs, the heart can grow weaker until it can’t pump enough blood to other areas of the body. Eventually, the plaque can build up so much that it blocks the artery entirely, resulting in a heart attack.
The most common symptoms of heart disease include:
- Chest pain or a feeling of tightness or pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of legs or feet
- Pain radiating through the upper abdomen, back, neck, jaw, or throat
- Weakness or numbness in arms or legs
- An unusual heart rate such as a fluttering sensation or a racing or slow heartbeat
- Fainting or dizziness
- Extreme fatigue
- Nausea or vomiting
Those with heart disease or a heart-related incident may also experience a sensation of numbness or tingling in the shoulders, jaw, arms, or neck, as well as shortness of breath while lying down, during activity, or while at rest.
If you ever experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting, you should seek emergency medical care.