Symptoms of cardiovascular disease

Usually there are no symptoms of cardiovascular disease. They are silent up until the situation is so severe that e.g. a heart attack, a stroke or angina (chest pain) happens. This is one of the reasons cardiovascular diseases are so dangerous.


Coronary artery disease can express itself in several ways. It is associated with the narrowing of the heart’s arteries as a result of atherosclerosis. 

When the arteries narrow, the heart may become deprived of oxygen. In this case, a type of pain in the chest known as “angina” or “angina pectoris” can occur. Angina can be stable, in which case the characteristics of the pain (the conditions under which it occurs, the onset threshold, its intensity, and its duration...) will stay the same over time. Coronary heart disease is a chronic condition. 

When one or more coronary arteries are completely blocked, then a heart attack will occur. This is officially known as a “myocardial infarction” or “acute coronary syndrome”. Patients will then feel a range of different symptoms: 

- Pain, dizziness or tightness in the chest when there is physical exertion or intense emotion;
- Pain in the middle of the chest, sometimes on the left, sometimes around the shoulder blade, the left arm, the neck, the throat or the jaw;
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Breathlessness;
- Cold sweats and clammy skin

When people have heart attacks, they experience dizziness, and collapse. They can still be saved if the appropriate first aid techniques are used. The chances of survival are greater if the first aid is administered quickly. 

Ischaemic heart disease can be silent

Sometimes, ischaemic heart disease of a coronary nature can be silent. This condition occurs in the elderly, in patients with psychiatric disorders, and in diabetics who do not feel pain. The damage occurs without the patient realising it.

Last updated: 30/07/2017

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