Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) Community
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WELCOME TO THE ARTERIOVENOUS MALFORMATION (AVM) COMMUNITY: This Patient-To-Patient Community is for discussions relating to Arteriovenous Malformations, which are defects of the circulatory system that are generally believed to arise during embryonic or fetal development or soon after birth. They are comprised of snarled tangles of arteries and veins.

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What Are the Signs and Symptoms...

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease?

A common symptom of coronary artery disease (CAD) is angina. Angina is chest pain or discomfort that occurs when your heart muscle doesn't get enough oxygen-rich blood.

Angina may feel like pressure or a squeezing pain in your chest. You also may feel it in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. This pain tends to get worse with activity and go away when you rest. Emotional stress also can trigger the pain.

Another common symptom of CAD is shortness of breath. This symptom happens if CAD causes heart failure. When you have heart failure, your heart can't pump enough blood throughout your body. Fluid builds up in your lungs, making it hard to breathe.

The severity of these symptoms varies. The symptoms may get more severe as the buildup of plaque continues to narrow the coronary arteries.

Signs and Symptoms of Heart Problems Linked to Coronary Artery Disease

Some people who have CAD have no signs or symptoms. This is called silent CAD. It may not be diagnosed until a person show signs and symptoms of a heart attack, heart failure, or an arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat). 

Heart Attack

A heart attack happens when an area of plaque in a coronary artery breaks apart, causing a blood clot to form.

The blood clot cuts off most or all blood to the part of the heart muscle that's fed by that artery. Cells in the heart muscle die because they don't receive enough oxygen-rich blood. This can cause lasting damage to your heart. For more information, see the animation in "What Causes a Heart Attack?"

Heart With Muscle Damage and a Blocked Artery

Illustration showing an overview of a heart and coronary artery showing damage caused by a heart attack. The illustration also shows a cross-section of the coronary artery with plaque buildup and a blood clot.

Figure A is an overview of a heart and coronary artery showing damage (dead heart muscle) caused by a heart attack. Figure B is a cross-section of the coronary artery with plaque buildup and a blood clot.

The most common symptom of heart attack is chest pain or discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. It can be mild or severe. Heart attack pain can sometimes feel like indigestion or heartburn.

Heart attacks also can cause upper body discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. Shortness of breath or fatigue (tiredness) often may occur with or before chest discomfort. Other symptoms of heart attack are nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), vomiting, lightheadedness or fainting, and breaking out in a cold sweat.

Heart Failure

Heart failure is a condition in which your heart can't pump enough blood to your body. Heart failure doesn't mean that your heart has stopped or is about to stop working. It means that your heart can't fill with enough blood or pump with enough force, or both.

This causes you to have shortness of breath and fatigue that tends to increase with activity. Heart failure also can cause swelling in your feet, ankles, legs, and abdomen.


An arrhythmia is a problem with the speed or rhythm of the heartbeat. When you have an arrhythmia, you may notice that your heart is skipping beats or beating too fast. Some people describe arrhythmias as a fluttering feeling in their chests. These feelings are called palpitations.

Some arrhythmias can cause your heart to suddenly stop beating. This condition is called sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).  SCA can make you faint and it can cause death if it’s not treated right away. 

For more information, see the animations in "Types of Arrhythmia."


Author/Source: National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, Division of the National Institutes of Health [NIH]

Retrieved: June 2008

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