Heart Disease Symptoms and Diagnosis
Because heart disease can manifest in different ways, it can be hard to notice symptoms and get a diagnosis.
Heart disease symptoms
Not everyone has symptoms of heart disease, and sometimes symptoms can be subtle based on what type of heart disease you have.
Common signs and symptoms include:
If you have arrhythmia, you may feel like your heart is fluttering, beating too fast, or skipping a beat.
Diagnosing heart disease
Your doctor will do a physical exam and order tests to diagnose heart disease. He or she will ask about your symptoms, family history, and assess any risk factors.
The UPMC Advanced Cardiac Imaging Program uses state-of-the-art technology not found at other medical centers in the Pittsburgh region.
Tests you may need to help your doctor confirm a heart disease diagnosis include:
- Electrocardiogram (EKG) — this is a simple, painless test that checks your heart's electrical activity. It looks for heart damage or signs of a prior heart attack.
- Stress test — during this test, you perform moderate exercise, like walking on a treadmill, to get your heart beating faster. The test checks for shortness of breath andabnormal changes in your heart rate, blood pressure, or heart's rhythm.
- Blood tests — this test finds heart disease risk factors, such as the cholesterol, sugar, and proteins in your blood.
- Echocardiogram — this test uses sound waves to take pictures of your heart. It checks blood flow and the size and shape of your heart's valves and chambers.
- Heart catheterization — this test uses a dye and an x-ray to check how blood flows through your heart and blood vessels. Your doctor will insert the dye into a vein in your arm, groin, or neck using a catheter, or a thin tube.
UPMC's Cardiac Catheterization Program specialists perform more than 23,000 diagnostic and interventional heart catheterizations each year.
Heart disease prevention
Most cases of heart disease, specifically coronary artery disease, are preventable with a healthy lifestyle and medicine.
Some ways to help prevent or delay heart disease include:
- Managing chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Following a healthy diet.
- Exercising regularly.
- Quitting smoking and not abusing alcohol.