As in previous article, we explore risk factors belong cardiac diseases, in this article we try to explore the symptoms cardiac patient feel.
No greater chance, or responsibility can fall to be a physician. In the care of the suffering, the physician needs medical skills, scientific knowledge and human understanding, so here we will explain the symptoms, cardiac patients can notice and not to make non-physician to be a physician.
Despite the outstanding technological advances in medicine, clinical examination and understanding the history and symptoms of cardiac diseases will remain the cornerstone of assessment of the patient.
1- Dyspnea: is an abnormally uncomfortable awareness of breathing, it may be caused by cardiac or pulmonary diseases. Cardiac breathlessness progress over months to years to be developed even at rest. Sleep in advanced heart failure can cause acute shortness of breath usually 2 to 4 hours after sleep accompanied by cough, wheezing and sweating which awake the patient and it is often ameliorated by the patient sitting on the side of the bed for 15 to 30 minutes. it is important to know that dyspnea occurring at rest but not on exertion is often due to anxiety state rather than cardiac disease.
2- Chest pain or discomfort: may be caused not only from the heart but also from all organs inside the chest. So cardiac chest pain is described as squeezing, constricting as heaviness in the chest or burning feeling, usually in center of the chest spread to LT shoulder or the back, usually cardiac chest pain is not defined to specific point in the chest rather than it is feeling of all chest discomfort but if the patient can point directly to the site of discomfort with finger or last for seconds, it is usually not angina pectoris. Cardiac chest pain lasts more than 5 minutes, it is important to be carefully investigated especially when other symptoms like sweating, nausea, dizziness or vomiting associated. So if you have persistent chest pain, don’t hesitate to consult the nearest physician.
3- Cyanosis: bluish discoloration of the skin can be noticed centrally which is mostly due to congenital heart diseases especially in infants or peripherally which can be due to heart failure or peripheral arterial diseases, any of these types of cyanosis require immediate medical review and investigations.
4- Syncope: sudden transient loss of consciousness, may be associated with cardiac diseases (usually tack less than few minutes without any fits), neurological (usually associated with fits followed by sleep and last for 30 minutes), hypotension (usually linked to change in body posture) or hysterical (usually comes after stressful condition or sudden fear), so for persons syncope or face any relative with this problem should be investigated by cardiologist or neurologist for proper treatment.
5- Palpitation: an unpleasant awareness of heart beat, normally heart beat from 60:90 beat per minute, any heart beat disturbance may be due to cardiac disease or some systemic diseases, any heart beat disturbance should be investigated.
6- Edema: bilateral swelling of legs from ankle to the thigh preceded by gain in weight more than 5 kg. It is usually due to heart failure and patient with such problem should seek medical review and investigations include echocardiography. Edema due cardiac disease usually starts from down to upward while renal edema start from up downwards and hepatic edema start by ascites.
These are not the only symptoms for cardiac patients but these are the commonest, mean that cardiac disease can presented by many and many medical problems but mostly are linked to exercise, regular checkup can add a benefit for early detection of cardiac diseases and prober treatment, next article, we explain the various types of cardiac investigations.
Dr. Sherif Abuelenin
Al-Ahsa hospital cardiologist