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Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

Animation Movie Available Related Media: Understanding Angina Pectoris?

Symptoms may not appear in early stages. This is because the disease gets worse over time. A person may not know they have CAD until they start having problems. Over time, CAD may lead to:

Chest Pain

Angina is chest pain or discomfort that feels like squeezing or pressure. It is most often felt behind the breastbone. It may sometimes be felt in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. It is a sign that heart tissue is not getting all the oxygen it needs. People who have angina are at an increased risk of having a heart attack .

Types of angina are:

  • Stable angina or angina pectoris —happens with activity or stress and goes away after a few minutes of rest
  • Unstable angina —happens at rest and may last longer and be more painful
  • Variant or Prinzmetal angina —severe pain that happens at rest, often in the middle of the night, and is often caused by a spasm of a coronary vessel
  • Microvascular angina —caused by spasms in very small arteries of the heart
Angina: Most Common Areas of Pain
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Copyright © 2002 Nucleus Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

Heart Attack

Many people do not know they have CAD until they have a heart attack. This is a blockage of blood flow to the heart that can cause severe damage or death.

Symptoms are:

  • Squeezing, heavy chest pain behind breastbone, that usually comes on quickly especially with:
  • Exercise or exertion
  • Emotional stress
  • Cold weather
  • A large meal
  • Pain in the left shoulder, left arm, or jaw
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating, clammy skin
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Anxiety, especially feeling a sense of doom or panic without apparent reason
  • Unusual symptoms of heart attack—more common in women:

  • Stomach pain
  • Back and shoulder pain
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Heart Attack Symptoms
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    Copyright © 2002 Nucleus Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

    References

    C-reactive protein (CRP) as cardiac risk factor. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/evaluation/c-reactive-protein-crp-as-cardiac-risk-factor. Accessed April 27, 2022.

    Coronary artery disease (CAD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/coronary-artery-disease-cad. Accessed April 27, 2022.

    What is coronary heart disease? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/coronary-heart-disease. Accessed April 27, 2022.