A review of the latest research highlights the most reported symptoms of various cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), noting that men and women often experience different symptoms, according to a new American Heart Association scientific statement published today in the Association’s flagship peer-reviewed journal, Circulation.

The statement also highlights how symptoms are experienced over time, which may be months or years apart depending on the condition, and on a spectrum of severity or intensity, noting the long-term nature of cardiovascular disease development. The scientific statement writing committee reviewed current research on the symptoms of different cardiovascular diseases. They found that symptoms vary over time and by sex.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and around the world. It comprises several conditions, including 6 reviewed in this scientific statement: heart attack, heart failure, valve disease, stroke, heart rhythm disorders, and peripheral artery and vein disease.

“Symptoms of these cardiovascular diseases can profoundly affect quality of life, and a clear understanding of them is critical for effective diagnosis and treatment decisions. The scientific statement is a ‘state of the science’ compendium detailing the symptoms associated with CVD, similarities or differences in symptoms among the conditions, and sex differences in symptom presentation and reporting,” said Chair of the scientific statement writing committee Corrine Y. Jurgens, Ph.D., R.N., A.N.P., FAHA, an associate professor at Boston College’s Connell School of Nursing.

Measuring symptoms — what is important?

Due to their subjectivity, measuring symptoms is difficult. Symptoms may go unrecognized or unreported if people don’t think they are important or related to an existing health condition. In addition, symptoms may occur without changes in disease progression, and disease state may also progress without symptoms.

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