Thanks to advancements in treatment and education about healthy lifestyle, today fewer people die of heart disease than in the past. Nevertheless, clogged arteries remain the number one cause of death in the USA. And while predicting a heart attack before it happens can be difficult, sometimes the body gives us subtle clues that there is something wrong the heart long before a disease manifests itself. The following are 6 signals that might be worth talking to your doctor as they may alert about heart problems.
1. Extreme Tiredness or Fatigue:
Very often people who report not feeling well or feeling fatigued go on to have heart attacks several hours later. Extreme tiredness is usually accompanied with chest pain, but the nausea is much more prominent, therefore the majority mistake the symptoms for the flu. The reason for feeling that way is lack of oxygen. The heart is straining to deliver oxygen to cells throughout the body, making you feel exhausted. If it is the only symptom and you know it is hardly probably that you’ve caught the flu, especially if you are obese, hypertensive and heart disease runs in your family, you must take this symptom seriously. If tiredness for no obvious reason is persisting, you feel indigestion, chest discomfort, lightheadedness or have trouble breathing, go to see your doctor.
2. Feet and Legs Swelling:
Our feet and legs can swell for a bunch of things, from heat and inability to move around when travelling to varicose veins and pregnancy. But it can also be a sign of congestive heart failure when the heart pumps blood inefficiently. This is particularly true for people with unusual shortness of breath during an activity or when trying to fall asleep.
Swelling may also occur when the heart valves don’t close normally. Therefore, if you recently developed swelling of feet or legs, or if it is constant or worsening, you should see a doctor for an evaluation of heart failure.
3. Extreme Pain When Walking:
If your leg and hip muscles cramp when you walk, climb or move, and then get better when at rest, don’t dismiss it as a lack of exercise or your age. Although these things might also be the culprits, muscle cramps can signal a peripheral arterial disease, which is characterized by a plaque buildup in the leg arteries and is linked to increased risk of heart disease. The bad news is that people with PAD have a 50% chance of having a blockage in one of the heart arteries. The good news is that PAD and the associated heart disease are quite treatable conditions.
4. Sore, Swollen or Bleeding Gums.
Unhealthy gums can be a symptom of gingivitis when bacteria build up in between the gums and teeth. The bacterial infection can ultimately enter the bloodstream, where it attaches to the fatty deposits in the blood vessels of the heart. Gingivitis can very quickly develop into periodontitis – a more serious gum disease when the infection goes deeper and damages the jawbones. It can actually result in an increase of inflammation across the body, which is a risk factor for atherosclerotic heart disease development. So, if you notice your gums bleeding while brushing or flossing, changes in how teeth fit together, bad breath or tooth sensitivity, it merits a check from your doctor.
5. Sexual Dysfunction:
It is typically thought to be a problem of the brain or the reproductive system. However, it can also occur due to plaque buildup in the arteries which prevent normal blood flow to all the body organs. Men with even mild erectile dysfunction but with no known heart problems face a big risk of developing a heart disease in the future. And as sexual dysfunction becomes more prominent, signs of hidden cardiovascular disease risk grow.
6. Snoring and Sleep Apnea:
Snoring as well as morning sleepiness after a full night’s sleep is a common sign of sleep apnea – periods of time during sleep when a person stops breathing – which is associated with many physiological changes that increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Snoring can also be a sign of atrial fibrillation – a rapid, irregular heart beat which causes poor blood flow. Sleep apnea is also associated with obesity and is a risk factor for developing hypertension, which tends to lead to cardiovascular disease. Therefore, if you snore or your breathing interruptions wake you over and over again during the night, or if you hear the person next to you has these symptoms, don’t ignore them. Ask your doctor if you need a sleep study instead of complaining about the noise. Timely detection and treatment of sleep apnea can significantly lower the risk of heart problems.
But for all that remember that these symptoms can be caused a number of other things, so don’t panic. Only your doctor can really tell if they mean anything at all.