Signs Your Heart May Not Be Working Properly: PLEASE READ

Your heart is one of your most important organs, a tirelessly working muscle that quite literally keeps you alive. Unfortunately, heart disease is a leading cause of death, and its symptoms can be subtle or easily confused with other ailments. It’s essential to recognize the signs that your heart may not be working properly and seek medical attention promptly. Early intervention can mean the difference between manageable treatment and a serious health crisis.

Chest Pain or Discomfort (Angina)

  • Angina is a classic symptom of potential heart problems. It generally feels like pressure, squeezing, or a burning sensation in your chest.
  • Why it happens: Angina occurs when your heart isn’t getting enough oxygen-rich blood, often due to narrowed or blocked arteries.
  • Be alert: Chest pain doesn’t always feel the same for everyone. Sometimes, it spreads to the arms, neck, jaw, back, or stomach. The intensity can vary, and it may come and go. Some women, particularly, may experience atypical chest symptoms.

Shortness of Breath

  • Feeling unusually winded or breathless, even at rest or during activities that didn’t cause trouble before, could signal a heart issue.
  • Why it happens: Heart failure, where the heart weakens and can’t pump blood efficiently, often causes fluid buildup in the lungs. This buildup makes it hard to breathe properly.
  • Don’t ignore: Shortness of breath can signify other health concerns, but if it’s new or significantly worsening, talk to your doctor right away.

Heart Palpitations

  • Palpitations feel like your heart is racing, skipping beats, fluttering, or pounding too hard. They can be very brief or last for longer periods.
  • Why it happens: While sometimes linked to stress or caffeine, frequent or unusual palpitations can indicate a heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), valve problems, or other heart conditions.
  • Seeking clarity: It’s tricky to know what’s “normal” with heart rhythm. Consulting with your doctor helps determine if your palpitations warrant further investigation.

Fatigue and Weakness

  • Unusual and persistent tiredness that hinders your daily activities is not simply the need for more sleep. Constant fatigue could mean your heart isn’t performing at its best.
  • Why it happens: When your heart has trouble pumping, your body diverts blood away from less crucial organs like muscles towards the brain and heart. This leaves you feeling depleted, impacting everything you do.
  • Take note: Don’t simply assume tiredness is stress or age. Talk to your doctor, especially if fatigue arises suddenly or accompanies other symptoms.

Swelling in Legs, Feet, and Ankles

  • Swelling, commonly known as edema, can show up in your lower limbs when fluid builds up.
  • Why it happens: A weak heart struggles to return blood from your extremities, causing fluids to collect in those areas. This can sometimes also cause abdominal swelling.
  • Important observation: Swollen legs can result from several causes. See your doctor to check if heart dysfunction is behind your swelling.

Other Common and Lesser-Known Warning Signs of Heart Problem

  • Nausea, indigestion, or stomach pain: While these are often gut-related, they can signal a heart attack, especially in women.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness: If coupled with other symptoms, it could mean reduced blood flow to the brain due to heart problems.
  • Pain spreading to the arm: Classic, particularly pain down the left arm during a heart attack, but the pain could also show up in other areas.
  • Excessive sweating: Breaking into a cold sweat with no obvious cause should raise a red flag, particularly if combined with other signs.


1. I sometimes get chest pain, but it goes away quickly. Should I be worried?

Any type of chest discomfort warrants your attention. Do not self-diagnose. Contact your doctor for assessment, even if the pain is fleeting.

2. Can young people have heart problems?

Unfortunately, yes. Although the risk increases with age, lifestyle factors, family history, and some underlying conditions can cause heart trouble in younger adults and even children.


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