Heart DiseaseHeart Disease Signs and Symptoms

Let’s Talk About the Signs and Symptoms of Heart Disease

Knowing the red flags that signal heart disease can help you get diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

    Our Pro PanelHeart Disease Signs and Symptoms

    We went to some of the nation's top experts in heart disease to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Guy Mintz, M.D.

    Guy Mintz, M.D.Director of Cardiovascular Health & Lipidology

    Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital
    Manhasset, NY
    Michael Goyfman M.D., MPH

    Michael Goyfman M.D., MPHDirector of Clinical Cardiology

    Long Island Jewish Forest Hills
    Queens, NY
    Andrew Freeman, M.D. headshot.

    Andrew Freeman, M.D.Director of Cardiovascular Prevention and Wellness

    National Jewish Health

    Frequently Asked QuestionsHeart Disease Signs and Symptoms

    Can heart disease be cured?

    Generally speaking, no. However, it often can be managed with the right lifestyle adjustments. That means exercising at least 150 minutes a week and eating a nutritious diet. Limit or avoid salty, sugary, and fatty foods. If you smoke, quit. There’s a great deal you can do, but it’s not always easy. Fortunately, help’s available. Depending on your diagnosis, you may qualify for cardiac rehab, which will help you make necessary lifestyle changes. Medications and procedures likely also will be necessary to help your heart.

    If I don’t have chest pain, how will I know I’m having a heart attack?

    While it’s true that chest pain is the most common symptom, many heart attacks occur without it. Your goal should be to understand whether you’re at risk of a heart attack. If you are, then knowing that even vague symptoms like nausea and fatigue can signal a heart attack will make you take those symptoms seriously. When in doubt, err on the side of caution—call 911.

    I’m only 30. Do I have to worry about heart disease?

    While it’s true that most types of heart disease begin to occur around retirement age, the numbers of younger people with heart disease has risen in recent decades. Even if that were not the case, you’d still want to keep your heart health in mind when you’re young. Heart disease often develops slowly over many years, as a result of unhealthy lifestyle choices, like poor diet, lack of exercise, or binge drinking. So develop lifelong habits like eating well and exercising regularly to protect your ticker as you age.

    Does stress affect my heart disease risk?

    First, if you are stressed about your heart disease risk, talk to your doctor and learn where you stand rather than letting worry gnaw at you. Stress, especially when it’s chronic, or ongoing, can affect your heart both directly and indirectly. Stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol boost your heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar. Stress also makes it harder to resist giving in to temptation. You’re more likely to overeat, overindulge in alcohol, and smoke when you are stressed. And stress can make it tougher to get a good night’s sleep, something that your heart needs to stay healthy.

    Matt McMillen

    Matt McMillen

    Matt McMillen has been a freelance health reporter since 2002. In that time he’s covered everything from acupuncture to the Zika virus.