Understanding Heart Disease: Risk factors, warnings signs and more

The experts at The Heart Hospital at St. Joseph’s/Candler can help with both routine and complex cardiovascular conditions. As the first hospital in the region to receive full accreditation as a Chest Pain Center from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care, our board-certified cardiovascular specialists can provide expertise with both diagnosis and treatment for cardiovascular issues.

Heart disease, a leading killer of both men and women, can present itself in a variety of ways. Along with the classic symptoms of a heart attack, such as chest pain, it is crucial to be aware of the not-so-obvious symptoms, including back, shoulder or stomach pain, anxiety, fatigue or cold sweats.

Women usually experience heart disease later in life when other health complications, such as arthritis and osteoporosis, can mask the symptoms of a heart attack. It is also common for men and women to put off going to the hospital because they attribute their pain or other irregular symptoms to non-cardiac causes such as indigestion. This is why it's crucial to know the typical and atypical warning signs.

Treatment of a heart attack requires improving the blood flow to the heart muscle as quickly as possible. It is critical that a person having a heart attack seek medical attention immediately so the best treatment option is available to the individual. 

Risk Factors You Can Change

  • Some of the risks for heart disease that you CAN change are:
  • Not smoking. If you do smoke, quit.
  • Controlling your cholesterol through diet, exercise, and medicines.
  • Controlling high blood pressure through diet, exercise, and medicines, if needed.
  • Controlling diabetes through diet, exercise, and medicines, if needed.
  • Exercising at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Keeping to a healthy weight by eating healthy foods, eating less, and joining a weight loss program, if you need to lose weight.
  • Learning healthy ways to cope with stress through special classes or programs, or things like meditation or yoga.
  • Limiting how much alcohol you drink to 1 drink a day for women and 2 a day for men.

Classic Warning Signs

  • Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes
  • Pain spreading to shoulders, neck or arms
  • Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath

Atypical or Unusual Symptoms

  • Back, jaw, neck, stomach or abdominal pain
  • Dizziness, nausea or vomiting accompanied by classic warning signs
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Unexplained anxiety, weakness or fatigue accompanied by classic warning signs
  • Palpitations, cold sweat or paleness accompanied by classic warning signs

Education and Prevention 

At The Heart Hospital at St. Joseph’s/Candler, we offer a variety of heart disease prevention and management programs including community screenings, educational opportunities, cardiac rehabilitation and pulmonary rehabilitation. This on-going certified rehabilitation support, including extensive and advanced prevention and wellness, helps our cardiovascular patients achieve long term success with heart, vascular and lung issues or conditions. 

Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Critical for Success

The specially trained and credentialed rehabilitation experts at The Heart Hospital provide daily support for both cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation patients, both while in the hospital and at our cardiovascular specific outpatient facility. The team is accredited by the American Heart Associated based on the work they have done to partner with patients on improving their cardiovascular health.

Contact Us

For a physician referral to The Heart Hospital, call St. Joseph's/Candler Central Referral Office at (800) 622-6877.

Find a Physician

Meet the team at St. Joseph's/Candler

Our team of highly-skilled doctors are experienced in many aspects of healthcare from primary care to emergent care to specialty care. Find a physician that meets your needs.