Cardiovascular Disease Symptoms and Types

Cardiovascular disease symptoms may be not the same for men and women. For example, men are more likely to experience chest pain, and women are more likely to experience symptoms as nausea, extreme fatigue, and shortness of breath.

Cardiovascular disease is caused by blocked, stiffened, or narrowed vessels that prevent the brain, heart or other body parts from getting enough blood.

Cardiovascular disease symptoms 

Cardiovascular disease symptoms depend on what type of heart disease the person has. Here are the most common symptoms specific for each type:

  1. Symptoms of heart disease in the blood vessels (Atherosclerotic Disease)

These symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath;
  • Chest pain (angina);
  • Pain in the throat, neck, upper abdomen, jaws or back, and/or
  • Weakness, coldness, numbness or pain in the arms or legs if the blood vessels in those parts of the body are narrowed.

 Cardiovascular Disease Symptoms

  1. Symptoms of heart disease caused by abnormal heartbeats (Heart Arrhythmias)

In a case of heart arrhythmias, the heart can beat too slowly, too quickly, or irregularly. These symptoms may include:

  • Racing heartbeat (tachycardia);
  • Fluttering in the chest;
  • Slow heartbeat (bradycardia);
  • Dizziness;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Chest pain and discomfort;
  • Fainting (syncope) and/or near fainting, and
  • Lightheadedness.
  1. Symptoms of heart disease caused by heart defects

Serious inherited heart defects (defects a person is born with) usually become apparent soon after labor. The symptoms in children may include:

  • Blue or pale gray skin color (cyanosis);
  • Swelling in the abdomen, legs or some parts around the eyes, and/or
  • In a baby, breathless during feeding, leading to weight gain.

Less severe inherited heart defects are usually not identified until later in childhood or even during adulthood. Symptoms of these heart defects that usually are not instantly life-threatening include:

  • Easily tiring during activity or exercise;
  • Easily getting breathless during activity or exercise, and/or
  • Swelling in the feet, hands or ankles.
  1. Symptoms of heart disease caused by weak heart muscle (Dilated Cardiomyopathy)

Cardiomyopathy is the stiffening and thickening of heart muscle. A person may have no any symptoms in early stages of this disease. As the ailment worsens, cardiovascular disease symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue;
  • Breathlessness at rest or with exertion;
  • Dizziness, fainting, and lightheadedness;
  • Swelling of the feet, legs, and ankles, and/or
  • Irregular heartbeats that feel quick, fluttering or pounding. 
  1. Symptoms of heart disease caused by heart infections

There are 3 types of heart infections:

  • Myocarditisaffects the muscular central layer of the heart’s walls (myocardium);
  • Pericarditisaffects the heart’s tissue (pericardium), and
  • Endocarditisaffects the inner membrane which separates the valves and chambers of the heart (endocardium).

Varying slightly with every type of heart infection, the symptoms can include:

  • Shortness of breath;
  • Fever;
  • A persistent or a dry cough;
  • Swelling in the abdomen or legs;
  • Unusual spots or skin rashes;
  • Fatigue or weakness, and
  • Changes in the heart rhythm
  1. Symptoms of heart disease caused by valvular heart disease

The heart has 4 valves (the mitral, aortic, tricuspid and pulmonary valves), which open and close to direct blood flow to the heart. These valves can be damaged by various conditions leading to leaking (insufficiency or regurgitation), improper closing (prolapse), or narrowing (stenosis).

Valvular heart disease symptoms (depending on which valve is not working properly) usually include:

  • Shortness of breath;
  • Fatigue;
  • Chest pain;
  • Irregular heartbeat;
  • Fainting (syncope), and/or
  • Swollen ankles or feet.

When to contact your doctor

If you have these cardiovascular disease symptoms you need to seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fainting
  • Chest pain

If you think you may have some type of heart disease, based on the symptoms you’re experiencing, make an appointment to visit your doctor.




You may not be diagnosed with heart disease until you have angina, stroke, heart failure, or heart attack. It is important to watch for cardiovascular symptoms and talk over concerns with your doctor. Heart disease can sometimes be diagnosed early with regular exams. When detected early, this disease can be easily treated. Therefore, you should discuss with your doctor if you have any concerns about your cardiovascular health.

If you’re concerned about developing cardiovascular disease symptoms, consult your doctor about tips you can take to reduce the risks of heart disease. This is particularly important if you have a family history of cardiovascular disease.

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