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Common Heart Diseases & Symptoms
Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease is most commonly caused by hardening and deposits of fat and cholesterol in the wall of the heart vessels (the coronary arteries). This results in the narrowing of the arteries, and a reduction in the blood and oxygen supply to the heart muscles.
People at risk of developing this condition are
  • smokers
  • the elderly
  • those with hypertension
  • diabetes mellitus
  • high cholesterol level
Common symptoms are elaborated in the section on ‘Ischaemic Heart Disease’.
Ischaemic Heart Disease (IHD)
When the coronary arteries become critically narrowed, blood and oxygen supply to the heart muscles becomes inadequate (known as ischaemia).
Common symptoms include:
  • breathlessness during physical activities (running, walking, climbing stairs, lifting heavy objects)
  • discomfort or pain in the centre of the chest (known as angina)
  • fullness or discomfort in the upper abdomen
  • numbness or ache in the arms
  • choking sensation
  • ache in the jaw, back or shoulders
  • giddiness or near fainting
  • these symptoms are often brought on or made worse by physical activities, and become less severe with rest.
Heart Attack
Blood clot in a narrowed coronary artery will abruptly cut off the blood and oxygen supply to the heart muscles. Without oxygen, heart muscles die within minutes. The damaged muscles cannot function properly and this weakens the heart. Sometimes the damaged muscles give rise to a very rapid and unstable heart rhythm that results in sudden death.
Symptoms of heart attack are similar to ischaemic heart disease. But, in a heart attack, the symptoms often happen at rest. The patients may also have cold sweat, nausea and vomiting.
Heart attack must be promptly treated in hospital to avoid death and other serious complications.
Symptoms of high blood pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension) usually has no obvious symptoms and many people have it without knowing.
Untreated high blood pressure can lead to serious diseases, including stroke, heart disease and kidney failure.
The only way to find out if you have hypertension is to have your blood pressure measured. Hence, all adults should have regular measurement of their blood pressure.
In some rare cases, where a person has very high blood pressure, they can experience symptoms, including:
  • A persistent headache
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Nosebleeds
  • Shortness of breath
High Cholesterol
High cholesterol level is a major risk factor for coronary artery disease
Heart Failure
A condition where the heart cannot function effectively. This may be due to heart attack, coronary artery disease, hypertension, valvular heart disease, abnormal heart rhythm or other conditions.
A person with heart failure may experience the following symptoms:
  • shortness of breath during physical activities or at rest
  • cough or breathlessness while lying down
  • tiredness and fatigue
  • palpitations
  • swelling in the legs
  • sudden weight gain from fluid retention
Angina / Chest Pain
Chest pain or discomfort (feeling of heaviness, tightness, stuffiness) felt in the centre or lower part of the chest during physical activities is due to the lack of blood and oxygen in the heart muscles (known as ischaemia). This is often due to narrowing in the heart vessels - coronary artery disease or ischaemic heart disease.
Being short of breath or having difficulty in catching one’s breath can be due to many reasons. When the symptom is brought on or made worse by physical activities, it may be due to coronary artery disease, heart failure, disease of the heart valves or abnormal heart rhythm (known as arrhythmias).
You become aware of the beating of your heart when it is unusually forceful, rapid or irregular. It is normal to have palpitations when you are nervous or fearful, but it can also be due to abnormal heart conditions such as heart failure or abnormal heart rhythm (known as arrhythmias).
One of the most common causes of palpitations is ‘ectopic heart beat’. This typically happens at rest and disappears during physical activities. Generally, it does not have any serious consequences.
Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm). People at risk of developing this condition are:
  • the elderly
  • those with hypertension
  • coronary artery disease
  • heart failure
  • certain diseases involving the heart valves
  • excessive alcohol intake
  • excessive thyroid hormones(known as hyperthyroidism)
Symptoms of AF include
  • breathlessness
  • palpitations
  • stroke
Disease of the Heart Valves
Also known as valvular heart disease, it may take the form of inadequate opening or incomplete closure of one or more of the 4 heart valves. When the problem is mild, a patient has no symptoms. Severe valve disease results in the following:
  • heart failure
  • arrhythmias
  • symptoms similar to ischaemic heart disease
  • stroke
Echocardiogram (ultrasound scan of the heart) is a useful test to assess the severity of valvular heart disease.
Stroke can be due to a bleed or a blocked artery in the brain. Persons with stroke often have conditions that can affect the heart - hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, certain diseases of the heart valves and coronary artery disease.
You should promptly consult a neurologist (brain and nerves specialist) if you suspect you have a stroke.
Chest Pain
Heart-related chest pain
Although chest pain is commonly attributed to heart disease, many people with heart disease say they experience a vague discomfort for which "pain" doesn't seem to be an adequate description. In general, chest discomfort related to a heart attack or another heart problem may be described by or associated with one or more of the following:
  • Pressure, fullness or tightness in your chest
  • Crushing or searing pain that radiates to your back, neck, jaw, shoulders and arms particularly your left arm
  • Pain that lasts more than a few minutes, gets worse with activity, goes away and comes back or varies in intensity
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweats
  • Dizziness or weakness
  • Nausea or vomiting
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Contact Information
Dr. Chong Heart Clinic
Suite 5-11, 5th Floor, Medical Office Building, Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur,
282 Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur.
Mon,Tue,Wed : 9:00am to 4:30pm
Thu : 2:00pm to 4:30pm
Fri : 9:00am to 4:30pm
Sat : 9:00am to 1:30pm
Sun : Closed
Pantai Hospital Ampang
Tel : 03-42892903
Fax : 03-42892926/03-42892904
Thu : 9:00am to 1:00pm