In This Chapter
Understanding which symptoms suggest heart disease
Knowing when to take symptoms to the doctor
Although medical signs and symptoms can overlap, you can distinguish between the two on the basis of who is experiencing them. For example, you may regard a nagging, worrisome cough as a symptom. Your doctor, however, may regard that cough as a sign of congestion of the lungs. In broad terms, then, symptoms are feelings or conditions that a patient experiences and then tries to describe to his or her physician. Signs are findings that the physician derives from the physical examination that point toward the proper cardiac diagnosis.
Depending on the circumstances and severity, some symptoms (conditions you experience) may represent signs of serious cardiac disease to your physician or may not be worrisome at all. In this chapter, I look at ten key symptoms and signs.
Chest pain probably is the most common symptom for which people go to see a cardiologist. Although chest pain can signify heart problems, it also can stem from a wide variety of structures in the chest, neck, and back that have no relation (other than proximity) to the heart. The lungs, skin, muscles, spine, and portions of the gastrointestinal ...