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Categories > Heart Health > Heart disease: Treatment

Do you have heart disease?
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You know that heartburn and nausea are common heart attack symptoms. But do you know other symptoms that signal different forms of heart disease?

Symptom: Chest pain (angina)

Caused by: atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries caused by plaque buildup on the insides of blood vessels

Treatments: For mild angina, lifestyle changes like quitting smoking and switching to a healthy diet may be effective. Your doctor may recommend aspirin, nitrates, beta blockers or other prescription drugs. In some cases, angioplasty or surgery may be necessary.

Symptom: Palpitations, fluttering or heart racing

Caused by: arrhythmia, an abnormal heartbeat. The heart’s electrical impulses don’t begin or travel as intended. It can occur in association with different cardiac conditions or it can present by itself without concurrent cardiac problems.

Treatments: A wide range of rhythm abnormalities can be associated with these symptoms, from benign conditions that don’t need any specific medication or treatment to more serious conditions which require prescription drugs and/or ablation procedures. Prescription medications are often necessary to control the rate or the rhythm or both, depending on the symptoms. Some people may need pacemakers or implantable cardioverter defibrillators.

Symptom: Feeling out of breath, either from exertion or at rest

Caused by: cardiomyopathy, the thickening, enlarging or stiffening of the heart muscle, or coronary artery disease. Conditions such as hypertension and heart-valve problems may be contributing factors.

Treatments: Various medications, including ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors, calcium channel blockers or diuretics, may be appropriate, depending on your type of cardiomyopathy. Some patients need pacemakers or in extreme cases, heart transplants.

Symptom: Fluid retention

Caused by: heart failure, which prevents the heart from pumping enough blood around the body. As a result, salt and water build up in the body, promoting fluid retention in the feet, ankles or legs.

Treatments: Diuretics and eating a low-salt, low-fat diet may be helpful. Your doctor may suggest that you lose weight, exercise more or take prescription drugs, including digoxin and beta blockers.