Recognizing the Red Flags: Symptoms and Warning Signs of Heart Problems

The heart requires constant care and attention. Heart problems can manifest in various ways, often with warning signs that should not be ignored.

Dr. Seban Liu
Dr. Seban Liu, Riverside Heart & Vascular Institute

“Understanding the symptoms that come with cardiovascular heart issues is extremely important,” said Dr. Seban Liu with Riverside Heart & Vascular Institute. “Whether you are experiencing symptoms that are commonly associated with heart issues such as chest pain or more vague and lasting symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, or leg pains; early detection can significantly impact treatment outcomes and prevent severe complications.”

Classic Symptoms of Heart Problems

  • Chest Pain or Discomfort: One of the main symptoms of heart issues is chest pain or discomfort. If your chest feels tight, heavy, or like someone’s pressing on it, especially when you’re moving or exercising, it might mean your heart has a problem. This feeling can also move to your arms, shoulders, back, neck, or jaw.
  • Shortness of Breath: Having trouble breathing or suddenly feeling out of breath without doing anything could mean a heart problem. This might happen with or without chest pain and could show heart failure or other heart issues.
  • Palpitations: Sometimes, your heart might beat irregularly, like a fluttering or racing sensation in the chest. This could mean your heart’s rhythm is not normal and can sometimes show there’s a problem with your heart.

Uncommon Symptoms and Warning Signs

While classic symptoms are commonly associated with heart problems, some warning signs may not be as common:

  • Feeling Tired or Weak: Feeling tired or suddenly feeling weak, especially when you do everyday things, might show heart problems. This commonly occurs in women, who may not experience any other symptoms when having heart issues.
  • Feeling Dizzy or Lightheaded: Feeling dizzy or like you might faint, especially when you stand up quickly, could mean a heart problem. This might happen with other symptoms like irregular heartbeats or trouble breathing.
  • Feeling Sick to Your Stomach: Sometimes, feeling sick in your stomach or having stomach pains might mean a heart attack, especially in women.
  • Having leg or foot swelling, cramping pains, or wounds on the leg and foot that do not heal with time. This might happen when you have circulation issues in your legs and feet.

Recognizing these symptoms early and talking to your provider is very important. Any sudden, severe chest pain or discomfort, especially with other symptoms like shortness of breath, sweating, or nausea, could signal a heart attack. If you think you are having a heart attack call 911.

Being aware of the symptoms and warning signs of heart problems can be life-saving. However, it’s important to note that some individuals may experience no symptoms at all, making regular check-ups and preventive care important for everyone, especially for those with known risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, or a family history of heart disease.

Dr. Liu reminds us “Early detection and intervention significantly improves how patients feel, how they are able to do daily activities, and allows them to live longer and happier lives. Prioritizing heart health through lifestyle changes and regular health check-ups remains the foundation of maintaining a healthy heart.”

If you think you could be at risk for heart disease, talk to your primary care provider. They can help you determine when it is time to see a cardiologist. Don’t have a primary care provider? Riverside can help. Find out more about primary care at Riverside by visiting