Risks & Warning Signs

Know When to Seek Care

Cardiovascular disease is a serious condition, no matter what form it presents itself in. Knowing the risks and warning signs can help you keep an eye out for any problems.

Are You at Risk?

Your risk of developing some type of cardiovascular disease depends on factors that you can’t control, and those you can.

    Risk Factors You CAN’T Control:

  • Age (your risk generally increases as you get older)
  • Gender (men are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, but women are quickly catching up)
  • Family history

    Risk Factors You CAN Control:

  • Cholesterol
  • Activity level/exercise
  • Smoking
  • Weight
  • Blood pressure
  • Diabetes

 Learn more about cardiovascular disease prevention and management

General Warning Signs and Symptoms

Although each type of cardiovascular disease typically has different symptoms, many have similar warning signs. If you or your loved one is regularly experiencing any of the following symptoms, call your doctor.

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Constant dizziness or lightheadedness
  • A fast heart rate (more than 100 beats per minute)
  • A new, irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain or discomfort during activity that goes away with rest
  • Difficulty breathing during regular activities and rest
  • A respiratory infection or cough that becomes worse
  • Restlessness or confusion
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Loss of appetite or nausea

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heart Attack

Some specific warning signs may indicate a more serious problem, such as stroke or heart attack. You may assume that a heart attack happens suddenly, but that’s not always the case.

These warning signs signal that you’re having a heart attack:

  • Pain or pressure in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back
  • Discomfort spreading or radiating to your back, jaw, throat, or arm
  • Nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Weakness, anxiety, or shortness of breath
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeats

If you’re a woman, you’ll likely feel chest pain or discomfort, but not always. These are the other warning signs to pay attention to:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Back or jaw pain
  • Loss of appetite or heartburn
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Coughing
  • Heart flutters or palpitations

Call 911 right away if you think you or a loved one is experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack, even if they’re mild.