Coronary Artery Disease Symptoms That Everyone Should Know

Category: Cardiology

Since coronary artery disease can be sneaky with some subtle warning signs, it’s best to be proactive with your knowledge of the issue and not be caught off guard.

One way to prevent such an occurrence is to take note of these coronary artery disease symptoms that everyone should know.

What Is Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)?

When the major coronary arteries that supply blood, oxygen, and nutrients to your heart become damaged, deposits like cholesterol or plaque can form. This causes inflammation as the plaque builds, which can lead to CAD. The buildup of plaque narrows the blood vessels bringing blood to your heart, which can ultimately become a complete blockage or a heart attack.

This process can take decades, so you may not notice any symptoms until you have significant blockage.

coronary artery plaque 3d illustration

Smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, inactivity, and high blood pressure are all contributing factors in the development of coronary artery disease.

Common Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease


Angina, or chest pain, is the most common symptom of coronary artery disease. It is a severe pain on the left side of the chest that is usually accompanied by pain in the left jaw and left shoulder. Many describe it as pressure, heaviness like someone is sitting on your chest, tightness, numbness, or fullness. It may only last a few seconds and go away, or it can also continue to get worse.

If it lasts more than 5 minutes, this could be a sign of an impending heart attack, and anyone experiencing this symptom should call for emergency help.

Shortness of Breath

Another common symptom of CAD is shortness of breath. This feeling is like the inability to catch your breath, or a feeling of panic because you can’t breathe normally. This can become worse with physical exertion or emotional stress. If this is unexplained, call Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center to describe symptoms and what you were doing when it commenced.

Lack of Energy

We all occasionally feel fatigued or tired, but when is it frequent, unexplained, and accompanied by other symptoms of coronary artery disease, it could be a cause for concern.


Dizziness or lightheadedness as a symptom is normally intermittent. More than likely, it will occur during physical exertion, but it can happen at anytime.

Chest Discomfort

Chest discomfort can sometimes feel like indigestion. The difference is that it is not related to eating, and with indigestion, lying down will make the discomfort worse. As a symptom of coronary artery disease, chest discomfort is felt during exercise or strenuous activity, but goes away when you reduce said activity.

Symptoms in Women

Be aware that there are some differences in CAD symptoms for women, and they seem to be less likely identified. Women most often report fatigue, sleep disturbances, shortness of breath, indigestion, and anxiety before experiencing a heart attack.

The most common symptoms in women are pain or pressure over the chest, which then transfers to the arm or jaw. In addition, a burning sensation in the chest and abdomen, irregular heart beat, sweating, dizziness, plus  fatigue and nausea may also be experienced as a result of a female’s coronary artery disease.

Everyone should be aware of the symptoms of coronary heart disease and be ready to recognize them in yourself or a family member before a heart attack strikes. If you experience one of more of the symptoms mentioned above, and they continue to get worse, you should call your doctor immediately.

Always tell your physician at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center if you are experiencing any symptoms of coronary heart disease and their severity.

As always, if you have any further questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call (716) 278-4000 or request an appointment online today!