Symptoms of a blockage in the heart include chest pain, shortness of breath and heart attack, according to Mayo Clinic. A blockage results from the buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries, a condition known as coronary artery disease.
Built-up plaque causes narrowing of the coronary arteries, which are the arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart, advises Mayo Clinic. The plaque reduces the pathway of the blood, allowing less blood to reach the heart. Initially, plaque buildup may not cause symptoms, but as the plaque continues to accumulate in the coronary arteries, blockages form, preventing the heart from getting the blood it needs and causing symptoms of coronary artery disease.
The angina or chest pain due to a blockage manifests as tightness or pressure in the chest, sometimes caused or exacerbated by emotional stress or physical activity, notes Mayo Clinic. Women may experience the pain of a blockage as sharp and fleeting, and the pain may be generalized to the abdomen, arm or back. A blockage also causes shortness of breath due to the heart’s inefficiency, leaving the person feeling extremely tired.
A complete blockage of the coronary artery may result in a heart attack, explains Mayo Clinic. A heart attack often causes crushing chest pressure and pain that radiates through the shoulder and arm. Sweating and shortness of breath are additional symptoms. Women may experience different symptoms of a heart attack, including pain in the jaw or back or nausea.