Most common symptoms of 6 cardiovascular diseases: Men vs women

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Heart disease can present with many different symptoms in men and women. Hiroshi Watanabe/Getty Images
  • The researchers reviewed studies to delineate the more common symptoms of six cardiovascular conditions.
  • They found that symptoms vary between men and women, as well as over time.
  • They concluded that tracking symptoms is crucial to patient care and outcomes.

According to the World Health Organization, around 32% of deaths worldwide are related to cardiovascular (CV) diseases.

Research on CV conditions commonly focuses on major adverse CV events, including hospitalization, as opposed to symptoms.

Delineating the symptoms of various CV conditions could help clinicians in diagnosis and treatment.

Researchers recently reviewed studies highlighting symptoms of the following six cardiovascular conditions:

  • heart attack
  • heart failure
  • valve disease
  • race
  • rhythm disorders
  • vein and artery disease

They found the most common symptoms in each condition and that these symptoms can vary between men and women and over time.

The study was published in the journal Circulation.

A heart attack is characterized by a sudden loss of blood flow to the heart. The researchers noted that the most common symptom of a heart attack is chest pain, which can radiate to the jaw, shoulders, arms or upper back.

Common concurrent symptoms include:

  • dyspnea or difficulty breathing
  • diaphoresis
  • unusual fatigue
  • nausea
  • daze

A to study found that women are more likely to experience nausea, shoulder pain, upper back pain, and a greater number of symptoms than men.

Women also tend to have heart attacks. on average 7 years later than men. The researchers further noted that younger people who experience a heart attack are more likely to be male, smoke, and have a family history of premature cardiovascular conditions.

Heart failure is a chronic condition in which the heart gradually loses its ability to pump blood throughout the body.

The researchers noted that shortness of breath, known as dyspnea, is a hallmark of heart failure, and increased breathlessness is among the most common reasons adults with heart failure seek hospitalization.

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They added, however, that some heart failure patients may experience problems unrelated to heart failure. Causes dyspnea, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.

Older adults tend to experience dyspnea less than younger adults.

Fatigue is also a common symptom of heart failure. May promote exercise intolerance, especially when presenting with dyspnea.

Together, these symptoms can lead to cachexia (muscle wasting and loss of body fat) which may indicate that heart failure is progressing to later stages.

Other symptoms include:

  • insomnia
  • pain
  • mood disorders
  • cognitive dysfunction

researchers indicated that women with heart failure tend to have more physical symptoms than men with the condition, as well as higher levels of depression and anxiety and a lower quality of life.

Women are also more likely than men to report:

  • nausea
  • palpitations
  • pain under the ribs
  • pain
  • nervousness
  • edema—or excess fluid retention
  • perspiration

Heart valve disease occurs when the heart valves are damaged. This can happen in several ways:

  • Stenosis: the narrowing or hardening of the valves
  • Prolapse: valves that do not close properly and therefore allow blood to flow backwards
  • Atresia: poorly formed valves

People may be symptom-free in the early stages of valve disease. However, as the condition progresses, it can lead to heart failure and therefore have many of the same symptoms.

The condition can also cause high blood pressure in the lungs, known as pulmonary hypertension.

Symptoms differ between men and women. Women tend to report dyspnea and exercise intolerance more often than men as the stenosis progresses. women are also more like be more physically fragile. However, men are more likely to experience chest pain.

Stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted or reduced. Sharp symptom of stroke often predict future disability and subsequent quality of life. Identify and respond to symptoms. quickly is essential for treatment.

Acronyms such as FAST (face, arm, speech, time) draw attention to immediate symptoms, including:

  • weakness and numbness
  • speech problems
  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • loss of coordination/balance
  • visual changes
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The researchers noted that after stroke, some acute symptoms may persist and improve with time or rehabilitation. At all stages of stroke recovery, approximately:

They noted that women are more likely than men to have symptoms included headache, altered mentality, and coma/stupor.

Rhythm disorders refer to an “irregular heartbeat,” also known as a cardiac arrhythmia. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common rhythm disorder and often presents with palpitations.

Other common symptoms include:

  • fatigue
  • difficulty breathing
  • dizziness

Less common symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • feeling faint or sudden loss of blood pressure
  • anxiety

Psychological distress can worsen severity of symptoms.

Symptoms of atrial fibrillation are often mistakenly attributed to stress, sleepiness, the effects of bed rest, or a sedentary lifestyle that leads to delays to seek medical care for a week or more.

While women and young people with AF typically experience palpitations, men are more commonly asymptomatic. Older people are also more likely to be asymptomatic or Present with nonclassical symptoms.

Other research suggests that while non-Hispanic black individuals have a lower risk of atrial fibrillation, black patients have more palpitations, exercise intolerance, and dizziness compared to white or Hispanic patients.

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) affects the arteries of the lower extremities, causing reduced blood supply to the legs. People can be asymptomatic.

However, common symptoms include:

  • legache
  • pain
  • fatigue
  • heaviness
  • cramps
  • oppression
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • skin irritation

Women with PAD are more likely to be asymptomatic or show classic symptoms. The researchers noted that symptom attribution in women is complicated by comorbid musculoskeletal conditions such as osteoarthritis and the mistaken belief that PAD is more common in men.

The researchers also noted that women with PAD tend to experience faster decline, poorer quality of life, and higher burden of depression.

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When asked why men and women may experience different symptoms of cardiovascular disease, Dr. Corrine Jurgensassociate professor at Boston College School of Nursing, one of the study’s authors, said Today’s medical news:

“Woman’s hearts [are] smaller than men’s hearts and smaller relative to the width of the chest. These differences may be helpful in explaining gender differences in symptoms in conditions such as heart failure. In heart failure, there are differences in etiology (origins of the disease) and type: more women have heart failure with preserved ejection fraction than men”.

“Therefore, differences in the etiology and type of heart failure may explain gender differences in symptoms,” he added.

“Women are generally diagnosed later in the course of the disease and are potentially further along in the disease trajectory. Women are also likely to have a higher burden of comorbid conditions with late diagnosis. Consequently, symptoms among women may be a greater burden than among men.”
— Dr. Corrine Jurgens

The researchers concluded that CV symptoms are not static and can vary in their onset and severity over time.

When asked about the limitations of the symptoms described in the review, Dr Jurgens said: “It is important to understand that symptoms frequently occur in clusters, so it is important to track and report all symptoms, whether they are think they are important or related. . For example, many people do not consider ‘fatigue’ as a symptom”.

silent symptoms

“Symptoms can be insidious. However, if you become increasingly tired and unable to carry out your usual activities, for example in heart failure related to shortness of breath, this may indicate a slowly worsening heart failure condition. If managed early, hospitalization can be avoided.”
— Dr. Corrine Jurgens

“Symptoms are of fundamental importance not only for the diagnosis of cardiovascular disease and the evaluation of response to medical treatment, but also directly for the daily life of patients,” he concluded.