Want to learn about your heart health? The following are some key details you need to know when it comes to heart disease.
Recognizing the symptoms of heart problems may be tricky as some may be sudden and severe while others develop over the years. However, experts present the latest knowledge on cardiovascular disease symptoms in a new report to help improve patient care.
“Symptoms are a big part of how we assess a patient when they come to see us in clinic and how we make decisions about what the best treatment is for an individual,” says Megan Streur, a nurse practitioner at the Heart Institute at UW Medical Center in Seattle. “But at the same time, there’s a lot that we still don’t understand about the variability of symptoms in the same condition across different individuals.”
This new scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) was published in the journal Circulation on August 2022. Streur helped write the statement.
Symptoms and Heart Health
According to Corrine Jurgens, an associate professor of nursing at Boston College and head of the panel that wrote the report, evaluating and studying symptoms can be tricky due to their subjective nature. While objective measures like blood pressure and heart rhythm can be tracked over time, “[heart disease] symptoms aren’t like that,” explains Jurgens. “We have to have the patients tell us how they’re feeling.”
The report suggests that health care professionals consider the factors that may affect a person’s symptoms. For instance, while chest pain may be the most common symptom in men and women, women are more likely to experience other symptoms like nausea and shoulder pain. Moreover, when it comes to peripheral artery disease, women’s symptoms may be attributed to osteoarthritis and other conditions.
“It’s still the case that women are often diagnosed with illnesses later than they would have been diagnosed if they were men,” says nurse scientist Christopher Lee, associate dean of research at Boston College and vice chair of the report’s writing committee.
The report also notes that there are differences in how people interpret various symptoms of cultural norms. For example, Black people experience more palpitations, shortness of breath, and dizziness when they have atrial fibrillation compared to white or Hispanic people. However, Lee mentions how many measures of cardiovascular symptoms are based on studies of white men.
Mental health can also affect the reporting of symptoms as a condition like depression can cause “a general blunting of someone’s ability to detect what may otherwise be a very large change in their condition,” explains Lee.
Streur suggests that patients think about their symptoms and report them without minimizing them. She suggests patients ask themselves these questions: “When is this [symptom] happening? Is there something that tends to trigger it? Is there a specific time of day that it’s worse than others? Or if it’s a rapid heart rate, when does it happen? How long does it last when it happens? How fast is it going?”
In addition, if you want to give your health an extra boost, consider taking L-arginine Plus. It promotes circulation, blood pressure, and overall heart health. If you want to support your heart health, then talk to your doctor about any symptoms you may be experiencing and take L-arginine Plus.