The stages of heart disease progress from having at least one risk factor to end-stage heart failure that resists treatment, according to eMedicineHealth. The American Heart Association and the New York Heart Association both have four-stage heart disease classifications.
The initial stage in these classifications includes most people as it only contains a risk factor, or as in the New York Heart Association's list, someone with no physical limitations or symptoms under ordinary activities, reports eMedicineHealth.
Some symptoms that the patient observes warrant a trip to the doctor to check out heart disease. These include chronic swelling in the lower extremities, a dry cough that resists treatment, a preference for sleeping in a recliner or chair rather than in a bed and a shortness of breath that is getting worse or wakes the patient up at night, as stated by eMedicineHealth.
In addition, issues such as poor appetite, chronically pale skin, and abdominal swelling or discomfort also merit a trip to the doctor, notes eMedicineHealth. Any of the above symptoms should be reported, particularly if they become worse over a short period of time. If pain or shortness of breath becomes severe, or fainting ensues, emergency treatment is necessary, states eMedicineHealth.