This is a common symptom that can affect any age group. Causes range from occasional extra heart beats, perceived as a thumping in the chest, which are nearly always benign and do not require treatment, to fast heart rhythms which need immediate investigation and which can be treated with medications or a variety of electrical treatments.


Loss of consciousness can be caused by brain disorders or a lack of blood supply to the brain due to a drop in blood pressure. Reasons for the latter include simple faints, the heart stopping for a few seconds, or the heart running uncontrollably fast. Treatments include medications to regulate the heart rhythm or a pacemaker/ defibrillator.


Breathlessness is commonly caused by heart or lung disease. If the heart is not pumping normally, fluid accumulates in the lungs and the rest of the body resulting in reduced exercise tolerance, breathlessness on lying down and swollen ankles. A heart scan will reveal the cause and treatments to remove fluid (diuretics) and improve the efficiency of heart pumping (vasodilators) can be used to alleviate the symptoms.

Chest pains

Cardiac chest pain is felt as a pressure or tightening in the chest which spreads to the jaw or left arm. It normally occurs during exercise and goes away with rest. Pains when resting can be symptomatic of a heart attack and require emergency attention. An exercise test will show if the heart is responsible and an angiogram can demonstrate the cause of the problem, which is normally a narrowing in one or more of the three coronary arteries. This can then be treated with tablets, balloon treatments with stents or with bypass surgery.

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