Heartache, numb hands and other symptoms of cardiovascular disease

The main function of the cardiovascular system is to carry blood to all tissues and cells of the body. The circulatory system is represented by the heart and a closed network of blood vessels – arteries, veins, capillaries that penetrate all tissues and organs of the body.

The heart consists of muscular chambers (atria and ventricles) that move blood through the vascular system and a series of valves in the right direction. The self-regulating electrical system of the heart sets the heart rate and coordinates the sequence of contraction and relaxation of the atria and ventricles.

The cardiovascular system provides uninterrupted blood circulation through a closed system of vessels, without which it would be impossible to maintain the constancy of the internal environment. Together with the blood, oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and other vital components are delivered to each cell of the body, cells are cleansed of toxins and metabolic products, the accumulation of which would lead to the death of both an individual organ and the organism as a whole.

It becomes clear that a violation in any department of a complex structure, such as the cardiovascular system, will lead to a breakdown in all body functions, which can be fatal. That is why cardiovascular diseases are recognized as the most dangerous in the world.

As the pathological process progresses, the heart ceases to perform its functions, and at the same time, other organs and systems of the body begin to suffer.

Symptoms of CVD

Cardiovascular diseases are numerous, have different origins and mechanisms of development. The main causes of cardiac pathologies are infectious and inflammatory processes, congenital developmental defects, damaging environmental factors (intoxication, hypothermia), metabolic disorders, autoimmune reactions.

A feature of the development of cardiovascular diseases is that for a long time they can proceed hidden. Early signs of CVD, such as unmotivated weakness, fatigue, heaviness in the legs by the end of the working day, discomfort, and discomfort in the chest, are not regarded by a person as symptoms of the disease, which are worth paying attention to. Poor sleep, nausea not associated with eating, clammy sweat, exercise intolerance, and headaches may indicate heart problems.

Common diseases of the cardiovascular system include:

  • Atherosclerosis.
  • Hypertonic disease.
  • Coronary artery disease.
  • Inflammatory diseases of the heart.
  • Violations of excitability and automatism of the myocardium.
  • Heart defects.

Signs of diseases of the cardiovascular system

Several clinical manifestations suggest pathology associated with the work of the cardiovascular system.

Pain and discomfort in the chest

Pain is the most common symptom that indicates a disorder in the normal functioning of the heart. The nature of chest pain is different: from slight squeezing (numbness, burning) to strong acute compressive.

Angina pectoris is characterized by constricting pains in the heart with irradiation to the arm, neck, shoulder blade with a gradually increasing amplitude. The attack is provoked by physical activity, emotional stress, disappears after taking nitrosorbide.

Severe intense chest pain that does not go away after taking nitroglycerin, accompanied by sweating, palpitations, and fear of death, may indicate the development of acute myocardial infarction. One of the causes of a heart attack is the defeat of the coronary arteries by atherosclerosis. Pain during a heart attack is so sharp that a person can lose consciousness with the development of a painful shock: blood pressure drops, pallor of the skin appears, cold sweat appears.

Excruciating pain in the chest, radiating to the back of the head, back, sometimes to the inguinal region, is a symptom that indicates an aortic dissection or aneurysm.

Aching dull pain in the region of the heart without a tendency to irradiation, against the background of elevated temperature, of varying intensity: it either intensifies or weakens – it speaks of inflammation of the heart bag – pericarditis. The pain is aggravated by movement, coughing, pressing on the chest.

Signs of a pulmonary embolism depend on the location and size of the thrombus. A person has chest pain that radiates to the jaw, shoulder, neck, arm. Weakness, tachycardia, cough, shortness of breath join. There may be hemoptysis.

A short stabbing or dull pain in the region of the heart, which occurs independently of physical exertion, without respiratory and palpitation disturbances, is typical for patients suffering from cardiac neurosis. In the clinical picture of neurosis, in addition to cardiovascular disorders, there are signs indicating a functional disorder of the nervous system: weakness, fatigue, absent-mindedness, poor sleep, tremor of the extremities.

Strong palpitations and a feeling of interruption in the work of the heart 

A rapid heartbeat is not always a sign of heart disease, it can be physiological, for example, after exercise, emotional arousal, or after eating a large amount of food.

On the other hand, tachycardia as a symptom appears in the early stages of the disease. With heart rhythm disturbances – arrhythmias, a person has a feeling that the heart either “pops” out of the chest or freezes for a certain period.

Failure of the heart rhythm can occur in the form of a sharp non-simultaneous excitation of different muscle fibers of the myocardium, and this causes the cessation of the ordered contraction of the heart muscle – atrial fibrillation.

Supraventricular tachycardia is characterized by attacks of rapid heartbeat that can last from a few seconds to several days. Prolonged attacks are accompanied by weakness, sweating, fainting, increased intestinal motility, profuse urination.

Ventricular tachycardia is less common, leading to the impaired blood supply to organs and heart failure.

With heart blockade, non-rhythmic contractions, loss of individual cardiac impulses, as well as a significant slowing of the pulse are observed – bradycardia. Due to a decrease in cardiac output, signs of ischemia develop pressure drop, dizziness, fainting.


The feeling of shortness of breath or shortness of breath occurs with heart failure when the heart is not able to work at full capacity and does not pump the necessary amount of blood through the blood vessels. Heart failure can be the result of atherosclerotic vascular disease (deposition of fatty plaques on the inner wall of the arteries), acute myocardial infarction, heart defects, high blood pressure. In the initial stages, shortness of breath bothers only after physical exertion, with the progression of the pathological process, it appears even at rest.

Severe shortness of breath is accompanied by palpitations, acrocyanosis – blue discoloration of the skin of the nose, lips, fingers of the extremities. The patient cannot lie down, takes a forced position (half-sitting), his legs are cold. With the development of pulmonary edema, a strong cough appears, frothy sputum mixed with blood.

Cardiac shortness of breath should be distinguished from shortness of breath of a psychogenic nature (anxiety, fear, panic attacks).


The appearance of edema is a manifestation of venous stasis in the systemic circulation. They first appear in the afternoon on the feet and ankles. After a night’s sleep, swelling usually subsides.

Further accumulation of fluid in the body leads to the appearance of edema in the thighs, lower back, and abdominal wall. 

With the progression of edematous syndrome, fluid begins to accumulate in the abdominal cavity, the volume of the abdomen increases. The patient complains of heaviness in the abdomen, especially in the right hypochondrium due to stagnation of the liver and its hypertrophy.

In violation of blood circulation in the abdominal cavity, dyspeptic disorders occur in the form of poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, intestinal cramps, flatulence, stool disorders (alternating diarrhea with constipation). Kidney function may worsen, diuresis decreases.

In especially severe cases, swelling can spread to the subcutaneous tissue of the chest, arms, and face. Hands become numb, symptoms of paresthesia (pins and needles) develop.

Change in skin color

The pallor of the skin often accompanies vasospasm, some heart defects (aortic valve insufficiency), severe forms of rheumatic heart disease.

Cyanosis (cyanosis) of the lips, nose, cheeks, earlobes, fingers of the extremities – the result of prolonged tissue hypoxia is observed in advanced stages of pulmonary heart failure. The cause of cyanosis is the darkening of the blood due to a slowdown in blood flow and insufficient blood oxygen saturation in the pulmonary circulation as a result of congestion. Dark blood is translucent through the skin and gives them a bluish tint.

Headaches and dizziness

These symptoms are often present in diseases associated with damage to the cardiovascular system. The main reason for this reaction of the body is the insufficient blood supply to the structures of the brain. Oxygen deficiency causes hypoxia, in addition, brain cells suffer from intoxication with decay products formed during metabolism, which are not taken out of the brain by blood in time.

Jumps in blood pressure can cause headaches or dizziness. Long-term hypertension causes irreversible structural changes in the myocardium (hypertrophy), in which the heart muscle wears out quickly and cannot cope with work. Against this background, heart failure develops, when the pumping function of the myocardium is disturbed and the blood supply to all organs and systems of the body worsens.

Inflammatory diseases of the cardiovascular system

These include myocarditis, endocarditis, pericarditis.

Myocarditis is an inflammation of the muscular membrane of the heart. Caused by various infectious agents. Manifested by pain in the heart, shortness of breath, swelling, palpitations, arrhythmias. In the form of complications, it can cause heart failure or vascular thromboembolism.

Endocarditis is an inflammation of the inner lining of the heart. The consequence of the inflammatory process is the formation of heart defects. Symptoms are determined by the type and stage of the disease.

Pericarditis is a lesion of the outer lining of the heart. Typical symptoms are persistent pain behind the sternum, cough with dry pericarditis. The appearance of effusion between the sheets of the pericardium (exudative pericarditis) is an unfavorable sign since complications are possible in the form of suppuration of the exudate or cardiac tamponade.


Arterial hypertension is one of the most common diseases of the cardiovascular system, the main symptom of which is a persistent increase in pressure.

  • The first functional stage is characterized by arterial spasms with hypertrophy of their walls.
  • At the second stage, dystrophic changes in the walls of the arteries, left ventricular hypertrophy are already observed.
  • In the third stage, secondary changes appear in the target organs due to changes in the arteries and circulatory disorders.

At any stage of the development of damage to the cardiovascular system, hypertensive crises can occur in the form of sharp jumps in blood pressure. These are dangerous conditions that can result in myocardial infarction or hemorrhagic stroke.

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