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You may not know you have coronary artery disease since you may not have symptoms at first. The buildup of plaque in your arteries takes years to decades. But as your arteries narrow, you may notice mild symptoms that indicate your heart is pumping harder to deliver oxygen-rich blood to your body. The most common symptoms are chest pain or shortness of breath, especially after light physical activity like walking up stairs, but even at rest.

Sometimes you won’t know you have coronary artery disease until you have a heart attack. Symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Chest discomfort (angina) described as heaviness, tightness, pressure, aching, burning, numbness, fullness, squeezing or a dull ache. The discomfort can also spread to or only be felt in your left shoulder, arms, neck, back or jaw.
  • Feeling tired.
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness.
  • Nausea.
  • Weakness.

Symptoms of a heart attack in women can be slightly different and include:

  • Discomfort or pain in the shoulders, neck, abdomen (belly) and/or back.
  • Feeling of indigestion or heartburn.
  • Unexplained anxiety.
  • Cold sweat.


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