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What cardiac symptoms should people look out for, and how urgently should they seek help?

Oftentimes, cardiac issues can be detected in their early stages when you know what symptoms to look out for. Many of these symptoms can arise as a result of non-cardiac issues too, such as gastric trouble or simply fatigue, but it is always best to check with your family doctor, or in the case of more severe symptoms, a cardiologist.


The most common symptoms are chest pain and shortness of breath. Other cardiac symptoms include palpitations (the feeling of your heart pounding or racing), syncope (faint attacks), and nighttime cough. If you are experiencing mild to moderate chest pain, we suggest you see your family physician at your own convenience. Similarly, see your physician If you experience shortness of breath whilst walking, climbing stairs, or doing other everyday activities. They can assess your symptoms and refer you to a cardiologist if required. Breathing difficulties do not necessarily indicate a cardiac problem and could result from an issue unrelated to the heart. Your family physician will carry out basic cardiac investigations, including an echocardiogram (ECG), a treadmill test, and in some cases, an angiogram. They may also perform blood tests and other specialist cardiac examinations.

Seek urgent medical attention if the chest pain is acute (sudden) and severe. It may radiate out to your arms, neck, and back. We recommend you go immediately to a cardiac specialist or in severe cases your nearest emergency department in these cases. You should also directly consult a cardiologist if you are experiencing syncope or palpitations. Coughing at night or when you are lying flat is another symptom of cardiac illness. If you experience any of these symptoms, a further medical investigation may be needed.


- Edited by Anjali Parmar (Medical Student - University College London)