Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the No. 1 killer in the UK, responsible for the deaths of an estimated 73,000 people every year, according to Heart UK. To protect yourself from CHD, it's important to recognise the symptoms. Here are three common warning signs of the condition.
1. Chest pain
Also referred to as angina, chest pain is a common symptom of CHD. The NHS says that angina often feels very similar to indigestion and the pain can be very mild or severe. When angina becomes severe, people's chests become tight and heavy. The discomfort usually begins in the centre of the chest and can spread to the arms, legs, jaw, back or stomach.
Angina is frequently triggered by stressful situations or physical activity. While symptoms often pass within 10 minutes, people shouldn't ignore this warning sign, as it's not a regular part of the ageing process. If you experience chest pain, especially when combined with other symptoms, such as breathlessness and heart palpitations, make sure you see your doctor.
2. Heart attack
When your artery becomes completely blocked by blood clots that form on top of the plaque in your coronary artery, this stops the oxygen and blood from reaching your heart muscle. This is often what leads to heart attack, a common symptom of CHD. Before a heart attack happens, people may experience dizziness, angina, nausea, heavy sweating and breathlessness. However, it's also possible to have no symptoms at all, which is called a silent myocardial infarction. This most commonly affects people with diabetes. If you're experiencing chest pain, see your doctor.
When your heart muscle becomes weak, damaged or dies, your heart will start to beat abnormally. This symptom is one that progresses as CHD worsens and can feel like your heart is skipping a beat or thumping uncontrollably. If people experience arrhythmia and don't seek medical help from their doctor, it can lead to heart failure, which occurs when the heart has become too weak to pump blood around the body effectively. Intense breathlessness and swollen legs and ankles as a result of poor circulation are warning signs of heart failure.
While you should see your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms, keep in mind that CHD doesn't always come with warning signs. This is why it's essential to have regular checkups with your GP.
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