This article lists some of the complaints or symptoms commonly reported by our patients at Cross County Cardiology. We present this list as a general guideline to what medical conditions might be causing the problem. Please bear in mind, however, that the same symptom can have many different causes. For example, shortness of breath can be caused by a severe cold or flu. We include it because it can also be caused by more serious conditions.
Swelling of the legs and ankles is so common that almost everyone experiences it from time to time. Usually such swelling is temporary, for example after a minor sprain or a long airplane flight. But when leg swelling persists for more than a week or two, it could be an indication of more serious problems. One common cause of leg swelling, for example, is vein disease, especially if you have visible varicose veins. We discuss this on our Leg Edema, Swollen Legs and Tired Legs page. If the symptoms on that page sound familiar to you, we would suggest that you schedule an Initial Consultation. Leg swelling can also be an indication of Peripheral Arterial Disease.
There are many possible causes of chest pain, ranging from the benign (gas pains and muscle strain) to the more serious (heart attack and myocarditis). If you have persistent chest pains, we recommend that you have a Cardiology Consultation to detect or rule out these possibilities. If you experience sudden or severe chest pain, especially if it is accompanied by lightheadedness or shortness of breath, call 911 and seek medical attention immediately.
Heart palpitations are uncomfortable feelings that your heart is racing, fluttering, or "pounding" far more strongly than usual. This experience can be caused by emotional distress, by strenuous exercise, and by stimulants such as coffee and nicotine. However, palpitations can also be caused by atrial fibrillation and other heart conditions, so if the feeling persists for more than a few seconds, we recommend that you schedule a Cardiology Consultation, just to make sure.
This symptom is usually described as feeling as if you are going to faint, or as if you can't keep your balance. It can be caused by many things, many of them benign, such as low blood sugar, having a cold or the flu, or anxiety. It can also, however, be a symptom of more serious conditions, especially if accompanied by nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, or pain in the chest. If you are experiencing any of these more severe symptoms, call 911. Do not attempt to drive to an emergency room by yourself. We would also recommend that you schedule a Cardiology Consultation to make sure the lightheadedness is not a symptom of more serious problems.
Shortness of breath
Dyspnea, or shortness of breath, is never a symptom to ignore, and in fact is one of the most common reasons for emergency room visits. The most common causes of shortness of breath are respiratory infections. But it can also be caused by more severe conditions, including irregular heart rhythms, heart attacks or heart failure, and pulmonary embolism (a blot clot in your lungs). So if you experience shortness of breath, you should see a doctor. At CCC, depending on your other symptoms, we would conduct a full physical examination to determine the cause, including a Cardiology Consultation. If the shortness of breath comes on suddenly, and you are having severe trouble catching your breath, call 911.
Syncope is the medical term for fainting, or passing out, and is another symptom you should never ignore. Syncope is caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain, and it is never normal. Medical attention is always recommended, because although some causes of syncope are fairly benign, others can be an "early warning" of a dangerous or life-threatening condition. At CCC, again depending on your other symptoms, we would recommend a Cardiology Consultation to detect or rule out possible cardiac-related causes.
Occasional feelings of fatigue during the day are common, and often can be traced to lifestyle habits such as poor nutrition, to changes in routine such as exercising too much, to not getting enough sleep, or the effects of common medications, such as antihistamines. But if your fatigue becomes chronic, and you often feel exhausted even after a good night's sleep, it can be a symptom of underlying conditions that require medical treatment.
For example, feelings of constant tiredness are a common side effect of vein disease, and can be caused by varicose veins, even if they are not visible on the surface of the skin. We discuss this on our Leg Edema, Swollen Legs and Tired Legs page. Peripheral Arterial Disease can also produce constant feelings of fatigue. Scheduling an Initial Consultation with the circulatory experts at CCC can help to rule out these possibilities.
If your fatigue is constant, and can be described as more similar to "unrelenting exhaustion," it can also be a sign of more serious conditions, including many forms of heart disease. A Cardiology Consultation can help to pinpoint such conditions, so that they can be treated before they become worse.
Reduced Exercise Tolerance
"Exercise intolerance" sounds a little like the feelings you get when you really don't want to go to the gym. But if you often don't complete your workouts, or find that you actually can't exercise as well or as long as you used to, it can be a sign of more serious conditions. This is especially true if you also experience symptoms such as post-workout pain, nausea, vomiting, and unusual feelings of fatigue.
In such cases, a reduced tolerance for exercise can be an early symptom of heart disease, in particular diastolic heart failure. This occurs when the heart is unable to fill with blood during the relaxed phase of the heartbeat, which in turn means that less oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood is being pumped to other parts of the body. This reduces your ability to perform physical activity and aerobic exercise. We recommend that you have a Cardiology Consultation to detect or rule out the possibility that there is a cardiovascular cause for your reduced ability to exercise.
Pregnancy increases a woman’s vein disease risk in two ways – through hormonal changes, and by increasing the overall volume of blood in the body, which puts pressure the vein walls. As a result, about 30 to 40% of women develop varicose veins during pregnancy. Fortunately, most of these swollen veins go away naturally after giving birth. In some cases, however, varicose veins can be accompanied by other symptoms, such as leg pain, muscle cramps, swollen achy legs, skin itchiness and dermatitis, or Restless Leg Syndrome. If you experience symptoms such as these, it's a good idea to schedule an Initial Consultation with one of the vein experts at CCC. They can help you to minimize any discomfort during pregnancy, and explain your treatment options if the varicose veins persist after you give birth.
Blood pressure also tends to rise in pregnancy after 20 weeks, so if you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure in the past, it is a good idea to schedule a Cardiology Consultation to make sure no cardiovascular problems are present. This is especially true if you experience extreme symptoms such as severe or long-lasting headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, difficulty breathing, rapid or irregular heartbeat, or chest pains.
To learn more or to schedule a consultation for a checkup call our offices today at 201-299-4479 or go online. We want to do all we can to help you stay healthy!
Cross County Cardiology physicians specialize in a number of state-of-the-art cardiac and venous procedures and diagnostic tests. To find out more about them, and how these treatments may help you or a loved one, complete the form below and one of our specialists will contact you.
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