The experts at Ohio State can help answer your questions.

Heart disease is America’s number one killer, but unlike many diseases, there is no particular age to begin screening for heart disease. Your primary care doctor or cardiologist might refer you to a heart specialist if you have risk factors for cardiovascular disease or symptoms that indicate it may already be present.

While our Ohio State doctors are your partners in heart health, you are your own best advocate. Learn the risk factors and how to recognize the symptoms of heart problems. If something doesn’t seem right to you, talk to your doctor and don’t hesitate to make an appointment with one of Ohio State’s cardiologists today.

Heart Attack

Common symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Chest discomfort – pressure, squeezing or pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Discomfort in the upper body – arms, shoulder, neck and back
  • Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, lightheadedness and sweating

Women can experience additional and different heart attack symptoms including:

  • Discomfort in the lower chest or upper abdomen
  • Fainting
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms

If you think you could be experiencing a heart attack, call 911 immediately.

Your family’s past can help predict your heart’s future

Inherited or genetic risk factors you are born with can’t be changed. However, knowing your family history can help you assess your potential risk of heart disease. You can manage the risks through medical intervention and healthy lifestyle changes.

These factors increase your risk of developing heart disease:

  • Inherited hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Inherited low levels of HDL (high-density lipoproteins), high levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) blood cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides
  • A family history of heart disease (especially with onset before age 55)
  • Age (risk increases as you grow older)
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Menopause (generally, men are at risk at an earlier age than women, but after the onset of menopause, women are equally at risk)

Collecting your family’s heart history can help you determine a course of action that keeps you in good health. We offer a family reunion heart history packet that helps you collect this important information.

Call 614-293-7677 to request a heart history packet and learn more about Ohio State’s cardiovascular genetics program.

You can also check out our free online assessment tool – Family Healthlink – which allows you to enter your family medical history and determine your risk for cancer and coronary heart disease.‚Äč

What is Heart Disease?

Tom Ryan, MD, Director of Ohio State’s Heart and Vascular Center, explains what heart disease is, what the common signs and symptoms are of heart disease and when to seek care with a physician.

Heart and Vascular Specialists

Heart and Vascular Specialists

There are many specialists involved in the care of your heart. Your primary care doctor may refer you to one of the following:

Cardiac Surgeons

Cardiac surgeons specialize in treating heart-related disorders, including performing bypass surgery, valve repair and placement, and heart transplants.


Cardiologists focus on diagnosing and treating heart disease, including genetic or congenital (present at birth) disorders.


Electrophysiologists diagnose and treat heart rhythm problems like atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia.

Interventional Cardiologists

Interventional cardiologists specialize in diagnosing and treating heart disease using procedures performed in cardiac catheterization labs like angiography or placing stents.

Vascular Medicine Cardiolgoists

Vascular medicine cardiologists specialize in treating the veins and arteries outside of the heart, which may cause circulation problems in the arms and legs.

Vascular Surgeons

Vascular surgeons treat conditions in the veins and arteries outside of the heart and problems associated with poor circulation.

Cardiac Anesthesiologists and Intensivists

Cardiac anesthesiologists intensivists manage the anesthesia aspects of care related to cardiothoracic surgical cases such as, but not limited to, open heart surgery and lung surgery.

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