Is excessive sweating a sign of heart disease?
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Oct 22, 2019.
Excessive sweating can be a sign of a heart attack and may be associated with other symptoms including:
- Pain or pressure in your chest or arms that radiates to your neck, jaw or back
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or indigestion
Sweating may also be associated with atherosclerosis, which is a condition where the arteries are narrowed by the buildup of fatty deposits called plaques. Atherosclerosis can lead to a heart attack and heart failure. As the condition progresses and the arteries become narrower the body has to work harder to deliver blood to vital organs, such as the heart. Angina, or chest pain, can occur when not enough oxygen-rich blood reaches the heart. People with angina often break out in a cold sweat.
Sweating, particularly at night, is also a sign of another heart-related condition called subacute endocarditis. Subacute endocarditis is an infection of the membrane that lines your heart chambers and heart valves. Subacute endocarditis tends to develop more slowly than the acute form of the illness.
When excessive sweating is due to an underlying medical condition such as a heart attack, angina or subacute endocarditis it is called secondary hyperhidrosis. Hyperhidrosis is the medical term for excessive sweating. Primary focal hyperhidrosis, which is the more common form of hyperhidrosis, is not caused by an underlying medical condition.
Although sweating can be a sign of an underlying medical condition, it’s also your body’s way of cooling itself. It is normal to sweat more during exercise or in hot weather. It is also normal to sweat more when you are nervous or stressed, especially on the palms of your hands.
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