The Most Common Types of Heart Disease & Their Symptoms

The Most Common Types of Heart Disease & Their Symptoms

February is American Heart Month, a time to bring awareness to heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Sometimes heart disease can be silent and undiagnosed, and many people are either unaware they have suffered a heart attack or just ignore the signs and symptoms as they’re experiencing one. Some of the most common types of heart disease are:

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is the most common form of heart disease in the U.S., and is sometimes referred to as coronary heart disease or ischemic heart disease. CAD develops when the major blood vessels that supply your heart are damaged or diseased. Typically, cholesterol-containing deposits, or plaques, in your arteries are responsible for CAD. It often goes undetected until it produces a heart attack.


  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness, light-headedness, nausea, cold sweat
  • Heart attack


Simply put, arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat. It can cause the heart to beat too fast, too slow or in an irregular pattern. It may feel like your heart has skipped a beat, has too many beats, or gives a fluttering sensation in your chest. The most common type of arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation.


  • Heart palpitations
  • Pounding in your chest
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Anxiety
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Fainting


Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle. It gets stretched, thick or stiff, making it harder for the heart to pump blood to the rest of your body and often causing its rhythm to become disturbed. As cardiomyopathy gets worse, the heart becomes weaker which makes it harder to maintain a normal electrical rhythm.


  • Breathlessness with activity or at rest
  • Ankle, leg and feet swelling
  • Bloating of the abdomen
  • A cough while lying down
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty lying flat to sleep
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Chest pressure or discomfort
  • Dizziness or fainting

Heart Failure

Heart failure is a serious condition in which the heart has weakened and is not pumping as well as it should. About 5.7 million Americans suffer from heart failure and it is the leading cause of hospitalization among people over the age of 65. Heart failure is typically a chronic or long-term condition that gets worse over time.


  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Chronic coughing
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Mental confusion
  • Swelling
  • Rapid weight gain

This February, and all year round, it is important to pay attention to any symptoms that may be a sign of heart disease. If these symptoms sound familiar, make an appointment to see your doctor. Southwoods Cardiology is committed to providing high quality, comprehensive care and works with your primary care physician to ensure that care is coordinated. If you are in need of cardiovascular care and are interested in an evaluation, ask your doctor for a referral.