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Although there is no one symptom that can unmistakably identify heart disease, there are certain symptoms that suggest the possibility of it's presence. When several of the symptoms are present at the same time it may make the diagnosis almost certain. These symptoms include shortness of breath, certain types of pain, fatigue, palpitations, fainting and light headedness.

Chest pain, in some cases may indicate heart disease, but it can also be an indication of respiratory disease or gastrointestinal disease. Any time the muscles are not getting enough blood, inadequate oxygen and excessive waste products build up this causes cramping. A tightening or squeezing sensation in the chest known as angina will result when the heart muscle does not receive enough blood. The type and degree of pain can vary tremendously. Some people will have no pain at all which is called silent ischemia. If the blood flow to other muscles, such as the calf muscles, is slowed a person will experience a fatiguing pain in the muscle during exercise that is known as claudication. When the sac that surrounds the heart is injured or inflamed causing pain that gets worse when lying down, but gets better when sitting up or leaning forward, you will experience what is known as pericarditis. If an artery tears or ruptures a sharp pain is felt that comes and goes quickly. But if an aneurysm is affected a sudden, severe pain will be felt in the back of the neck, between the shoulder blades, down the back or in the abdomen.

A common symptom of heart failure is shortness of breath. This is a result of fluid seeping into the air spaces of the lung that is called pulmonary edema. At the beginning a person may only be short of breath during physical exertion. As this condition worsens shortness of breath will occur even when the person is lying down. Fatigue is caused by an inefficient blood flow to the muscles that makes a person feel weak and tired. With this symptom most people tend to blame the aging process or may even compensate by decreasing their activity. The same inadequate blood flow may cause what is known as heart palpitations. This can be identified as a forceful beating of the heart or an irregular heart beat that is not related to strenuous exercise or a dramatic emotional experience. When palpitations occur with other heart disease symptoms it is likely a sign of an abnormal heart rhythm or serious disease.

Light headedness and fainting is caused by an inadequate blood flow that results from an abnormal heart rate or rhythm. This symptom will also result from brain or spinal cord diseases. Today, doctors have access to a variety of test and procedures that help in making a rapid, precise diagnosis in heart disease. This includes electrical measurements, x-rays, electrocardiography, magnetic resonance imaging or MRI, positron emission tomography or PET scans and cardiac catheterization. In most cases these procedures carry only a tiny risk, but the risk increases with the severity of the heart disease.

In most cases a doctor can tell if heart disease is present based on the medical history and a physical examination of the patient. If necessary diagnostic test will be ordered to confirm the diagnosis, determine the extent and consequence of the disease. Then treatment or a treatment program will be given in accordance with what the doctor finds.