Heart disease affects millions of people, and in many cases, it’s preventable and treatable. By talking to your doctor about heart disease, you can take an important step in managing your health.\nNot sure where to start? Find out how to describe your symptoms and talk with your doctor about prevention and treatment options.\n\n\n\n\n8 Key Signs of Heart Disease\nThe signs of heart disease can be different for each person and can include:\n\nChest pain or pressure, which may come and go\nShortness of breath\nFluttering in the chest (also called palpitations)\nFatigue, or feeling very tired\nCough, especially a dry cough\nAnxiety\nSwelling in your feet or ankles\nFast weight gain\n\nWhether you’re a man or a woman, and no matter how old you are, it’s important to talk to your doctor about any symptoms you feel.\nAnd remember, if you think you or someone else is having a heart attack, don’t wait \u2014 call 911 right away. A heart attack is a medical emergency and can be deadly if left untreated. Paramedics are trained to treat people on the way to the hospital and offer the fastest, safest way to get there.\nHow to Describe Heart Disease Symptoms to Your Doctor\nBefore visiting your doctor, make a list of your symptoms. You’ll also want to write down:\n\nHow your symptoms feel. For example:\n\nIf you have chest pain;\u00a0it may be sharp or dull, searing or aching, heavy, or tight.\nYou may feel like your heart is racing, pounding, fluttering, or skipping beats.\n\n\nHow often you have symptoms, like all the time, when you do certain activities, or at a certain time of day.\nWhat makes your symptoms worse, like walking, climbing stairs, or lying down at night.\nWhat makes your symptoms better, like lying down, sitting up, or resting.\nIf you feel pain or pressure in other parts of your body, like your jaw, neck, arms, or back.\nIf you’ve had any changes in your abilities. For example, if your usual evening walk with your dog leaves you short of breath or your regular activities leave you feeling more tired than usual, tell your doctor about this.\n\nTalking About Your Risk Factors with Your Doctor\nIn order to prevent heart disease, you need to know what puts you at risk for getting it. Men and women share many risk factors for heart disease, including:\n\nAge\nFamily history\nMedical conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes\nSmoking\nBeing overweight or obese\nHaving an unhealthy diet that is high in saturated fats, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar\nBeing physically inactive\n\nRisk factors for women also include:\n\nStarting your menstrual period at a young age or going through menopause at a young age\nBeing post-menopausal\nHaving pregnancy-related conditions like gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes, or preeclampsia\n\nDuring your visit with your doctor, ask about:\n\nYour blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels, whether they’re healthy, and how often you need to have them checked\nYour weight, and if it is in a healthy range\nHow you can make healthy lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking, choosing healthier foods, and getting more physical activity\nWhat health screenings you need to keep an eye on your risk factors\n\nAsking About Heart Disease Treatment Options\nDepending on your symptoms and risk factors, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes or other treatments, like medicines or various procedures. Before you start your treatment plan, make sure you understand everything that you’re supposed to do (and not do) in order to make the most of your treatment.\nEven though it might seem simple, the following questions are always good to ask:\n\nWhat is my diagnosis?\nWhat changes do I need to make to my lifestyle?\nDo I need medicine?\nDoes this medicine have side effects? What should I do if I have side effects?\nDo I need further testing?\nWhen should I start to feel better?\nHow soon should I come back for a check-up?\n\nTo learn more, visit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute or call 1-855-UPMC-HVI (876-2484).