5 Heart Health Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

Know what to look for

doctor with hands shaped as heart

The leading cause of death in the United States, cardiovascular disease, is not something that should be taken lightly. Cleveland Clinic’s David S. Majdalany, MD, highlights five symptoms you shouldn’t ignore.


5 Heart Health Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore
  • Chest Pain

    Pain or pressure in the chest—especially with exertion—could be a sign of coronary disease or even a heart attack.

    Types of Angina
  • Leg Pains

    Pains that start in your legs with walking or other exertion could be a sign of peripheral artery disease (PAD), which often goes hand-in-hand with coronary artery disease.

    Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) Overview
  • Getting Winded Easily

    If you suddenly get winded during normal activity, it could be a sign of heart failure, significant coronary disease or valve disease.

    What is heart failure?
  • Syncope

    Passing out or getting lightheaded could be a sign of rhythm disturbances, low blood pressure, a narrowing heart valve, or other cardiovascular problems.

    Management of Arrhythmias (Abnormal Heart Beats)
  • Heart Palpitations

    If your heart starts racing for no reason, get checked out. It could be a sign of an abnormal heart beat, which can be a symptom of heart disease or an arrhythmia.

    Arrhythmia: Heart Palpitations

More information
Guide to Treatment for Heart Failure

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  • David

    Can having an ascending aortic aneurysm of 4.2cm, and a pulmonary arterial aneurysm of 3.9-4.3 lead to chronic, frequent chest pain under the sternum?

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      If you are having frequent chest pain – please contact your doctor to be evaluated. betsyRN

      • David

        Thank you for your reply. Not long after posting this, I was granted my request for referral to a new cardiologist by my new primary care provider. I have been on a prescription for 60mg isosorbide mononitrate since, and have a running prescription for nitrostat, as well. Still in watchful waiting as far as the aneurysm goes, and taking it one day at a time.

  • dorothy

    Is it true that you do not accept Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield ??Dorothy

    • Health Hub Team

      Thanks for your question, Dorothy. Cleveland Clinic main campus accepts the insurance and contracted managed care plans at the link below.
      http://bit.ly/TiRPJJ Feel free to contact Patient Financial Services for more information or questions at 216.445.6249 or toll-free 866.621.6385, Mon. – Fri., 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
      Let us know if you have any other questions.
      HealthHub Team

    • LLGH

      Speaking from my personal experience, Cleveland Clinic is the BEST hospital to work with in setting up payment options for your bill. I have had zero problems with them. Not to mention the excellent care you get there. It is not an overstatement when I say they saved my life! I also have medicare as my primary insurance. Hope this helps!

  • netnavagator

    Is there a “Gold Standard” test for accurate ejection fraction readings?

  • Mimalavi

    Erectyle disfunction could be also a sign Of peripheral arterial disease

  • Malinda

    Leg pain? Would you consider leg cramps as leg pain?

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Leg cramps can be a sign of peripheral arterial disease and should be checked out. betsyRN

  • Pauline

    I would consider swelling of the legs and/or feet also a warning sign. Especially in someone that has not had that problem previously.

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      that is true – you should contact your doctor if you have new or worsening symptoms, including swelling of the legs and feet. betsyRN

  • bethmoore

    Would love to there,but no car or insurance.

  • Anita Hill Hancock

    If you have all of the symptoms

  • Anita Hill Hancock

    Trouble with computer. If you have had these symptoms for the last 6 years off and on, but you had a pacemaker and defibrillator installed in 2007, is this cause for concern?

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Yes – these are signs you need to talk to your doctor. You may need medications adjusted or changes in your treatment plan. Some of the symptoms may also be caused by other conditions than heart – but we try to rule out heart first. Let us know if we can help you further. betsyRN

  • Ed Boland

    I have survived since my heat attack on March 30th 2012! I had an Acute STEMI; recieved two stents in the (widowmaker) LAD and LCX and one in the RCA. I awoke at 4:20 AM and felt very dizzy while using the bathroom. I pushed it off as being over tired and went to lay back down. Pain shot across my neck; so after a few minutes go up; went to the front room for a glass of water. I also decide to light up a cigarette; took two puffs and had to put it out as I lost my breath; felt like an elepahnt sat on my chest.I was denying a HA; since i had worked under a vehicle laying on my back the PM before. Sipped some water and sat in the chair until about 6;15 AM ;then the pain an now tingling started down my arms. At this time the denying stopped and I called my superintendant who said He was getting me to the hospital; he said medics would take to long because we were in the rural area. I did not know what a HA was and never even thought about all the medical equipment and technology the medics had. We arrived about 715; AM. after making a wrong turn and doubling back. I was rushed into the cardia lab and the first stent opened a 95+% blocked left artery about 8:00 am after the tests were ran. The second about 9:30 AM.I had to wait 48 hours for the RCA.
    I now suffer with Angina; lost 1/4 of the front wall to the bottom of the heart from damage. The left ventricle has no motion; Been diagnosed with CAD; CHF; Ischemia; Cardiomyopathy and Shortness of Breath. I thank God every day for having another day of living; and try not to dwell on the activities I can’t do anymore because this is what gets me depressed.
    I have asmorgasboard of medicines and some vitamins and minerals the cardiologist approves of!

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Ed – thanks so much for sharing your story. It is so important to not ignore symptoms – It is always better to be safe and check out your symptoms – than to be sorry. You were lucky you had a caring superintendent who knew you needed help. I am glad you are here to tell us about your experience – have a healthy, happy 2014! betsyRN

      • Ed Boland

        Thank You Betsy for your reply!!!

    • Patricia DeFeo

      My name is Patricia DeFeo: My goodness god bless you I had a massive heart attack on june 14 2013 I truly did not know I was having one my arms felt like cement and my ears I thought were going to explode off ny head. Called the ambulance but I dont remember anything I had a massive heart attack and now I’m cut open from my collar bone to my belly button and had a quadruple bypass, I was 99% blocked in all of my arteries I was put into a medically induced coma but before that I was clinically dead for 5 minutes… I dont remember anything my surgeon says that I’m truly a miracle to be alive and dont even try to remember just think of it as a bad nightmare an to go on and live my life to the fullest.. but before the heart attack I also was putting it off and blaming it on working or maybe I pulled a muscle, but when it felt like someone was squeezing my heart so very tight I still insinuated that it was something else I kept saying no way I’m to young, I still sit and think how in the heck and why, also they had to cut both of my breast bones cause my heart was so enlarged.. I now have congestive heart failure :( honestly I’m afraid to go to sleep for fear I’m going to die, I’m thinking that’s because I was going to go lay down but its a good thing some one called the ambulance the surgeon stated that if I would have laid down I would have died, the surgeon also stated that I had gone into a 100% shock he said I had held a conversation with him I honestly don’t remember ,all I remember is waking up from a coma 7 days later and asking where am I what happen, machines were going crazy the medical team ran in the icu then they started clapping and crying surgeon came in he started crying and laughing and there I lay still asking what happen and I’m hungry lolol the surgeon stated to me Patricia you had a massive heart attack I said aaahhhh right come on now but yes it is true… I count my blessings every day… God bless you David if you ever want to talk I’m here for you… Patricia DeFeo

  • Dan J Falke

    I have a ascending aortic aneurysm diagnosed 2 years ago and maintaining 4.3cm. My question is, if I needed CPR, will it cause the AAA to rupture? Is there another way to do CPR for my dx? This condition has been on my mind many times a day ever since the dx and I do not understand why I cannot get it repaired until it is 5.0cm or over? I feel like a walking time bomb and not being able to be “fixed” until I practically have to bleed out which, from what I understand, leads to death in seconds. Besides keeping the BP stable, not worrying (?), and leading a “normal” life(?), what else should I do?? And should I be wearing some sort of ID with my AAA being tattooed?? Please give me some insight!!—- THANKS—-DAN

  • Stacy Howard

    I have all the above and the doctor said that my heart looks good. At times I even have like a gushing feeling that will take my breath away and I end up coughing but they still say everything is fine.

  • markiemark

    I’m 54 n do high impact cardio exersize everyday mostly twice a day for an hour. In the last 4 months sometimes I can’t take a deep breath and hold a deep breath. Maybe once or twice a week

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      You should talk to your doctor. When you have new onset symptoms, or increase in frequency of symptoms, or unable to tolerate activities as well as before – it is a good time to check in with the doctor. betsyRN

  • keido

    My cardiologist has me wearing a halter monitor for palpitations that so far are what he calls benign pvcs. Should I get a second opinion?

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      The ambulatory (holter) monitor is a good indication of what your heart is doing when you are feeling palpitations. Make sure you record when you have the palpitations so the doctor can correlate the feeling you describe with what is shown on the rhythm strip. See this article at http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/disorders/electric/premature-ventricular-contractions.aspx Everyone has some PVCs – the important thing is to look at 1) do you have any underlying heart disease; 2) how often they are occurring (and how many in a row); symptoms that you may be having along with the PVCs. If you don’t have underlying heart disease or risk factors for heart disease and if they are not occurring frequently or with many in a row – they may indeed be benign. betsyRN

  • mel

    lower back pain unable to stand,unable to sit hurts to breathe,cant lift her arms and hips.pain is in between 6-10,tried an extra strength advil still not working

  • khan

    i have pain on my left chest under the breast tow inch long some time little hard but some time real low ECG is normal and i am not feeling load on my chest what it can be?