The signs and symptoms of heart disease start before the recognizable stabbing chest pain that many would expect with a heart attack.
In fact, many patients have signs that something is wrong with their heart for weeks or even months before they actually have a cardiac event, and doctors warn that sometimes those signs may be subtle, according to WebMD.
"The more risk factors you have, the higher the likelihood that a symptom means something is going on with your heart," David Frid, MD, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, told WebMD.
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"People often don't want to admit that they're old enough or sick enough to have heart trouble. Putting off treatment for other medical problems might not be so bad, but a serious heart problem can mean sudden death."
Risk factors of heart disease include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, diabetes, or a family history of heart disease, the site said.
Here are seven signs of heart disease that you should have checked out:
Chest discomfort or pain (angina): It's the number one recognized symptom of heart problems (although not all chest pain is caused by the heart), but WebMD warned that sometimes the pain isn't intense.
"Heart-related chest pain is often centered under the breastbone, perhaps a little to the left of center. The pain has been likened to 'an elephant sitting on the chest,' but it can also be an uncomfortable sensation of pressure, squeezing, or fullness," reports WebMD.
Shortness of breath: Several heart problems cause people to feel short of breath, which will often get worse with movement or exercise, reports the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
It can be a sign of heart failure, which occurs when "your heart can't pump enough blood to meet your body's needs." Shortness of breath can also be a symptom of broken heart syndrome, or stress-induced cardiomyopathy.
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Dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting: Any of these symptoms can indicate heart disease, and according to Mayo Clinic
, the problem can be regarding several heart issues: abnormal heartbeats, weak heart muscles (called dilated cardiomyopathy), and valve problems, among others.
Heart arrhythmias, or abnormal heartbeats: If you feel as if your heart is fluttering in your chest, beating too fast or slow, it may be an indication of heart disease, or even a heart attack, according to the American Heart Association.
Changes to "normal:" If it's suddenly difficult to climb stairs you climb every day or do other activities that usually are part of your routine, it can be a sign that there's a problem. Notice if you find yourself saying, "I used to be able to [climb stairs, mow the lawn, fill in the blank] but now I have to stop because I get [light-headed, short of breath, palpitations, achy, fill in the blank]," according to Caring.com.
Erectile dysfunction: Sometimes men are embarrassed or hesitate to see a doctor when they have problems getting erections. But they should be aware, a 2013 study in Australia, which followed 90,000 men, found "the worse erectile dysfunction, the more heart disease and risk of early death a man had," reports Caring.com.
Swelling in your legs: Puffiness in legs, ankles, calves, and feet can be a sign of a problem with your heart's pumping action. Although other things can cause the issue, such as hormone changes, salt, and medications, a doctor should check out potential heart disease.
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