Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in America, responsible for one out of every three deaths that occur. Preventing heart disease has been at the forefront of researchers’ agendas for years, and prominent investigations have revealed ties to physical activity, diet, and (unfortunately) genetics.
While most people know that heart palpitations, chest pain, and high blood pressure are signs that your heart is in trouble, there are other more subtle signs that could signal a risk.
- Coughing. Congestive heart failure can cause fluid buildup in the lungs, causing wheezing and coughing that doesn’t wane with time. If a cough doesn’t subside after a few weeks, consult your doctor.
- Depression. Due to correlations involving other lifestyle factors, depression and heart conditions have been linked.
- Dizziness. Arrhythmia, an abnormal heart rhythm, can cause an odd and irregular flow of blood to the brain.
- Erectile Dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction is often the first noticeable sign of a heart problem, preceding the onset of other symptoms by approximately two years.
- Fatigue. In the days leading up to a heart attack, patients often feel exhausted and weak, despite having had enough rest. The feeling is much different than the slight fatigue you might feel at the end of a long workday — it’s chronic and it’s severe.
- Lack of Appetite. One of these underlying health problems could be a heart condition. If the aversion to food persists, ask your doctor to evaluate what’s going on. The sooner you catch the condition, the better chance you have of avoiding a heart attack. Nausea or a lack of appetite is a telltale sign that something’s wrong.
- Lack of Hair on Your Legs. Hair needs a consistent source of nutrients from blood flow to grow. Without those nutrients, the body simply stops growing hair. Your leg hair is likely to go first since it’s furthest from the heart. But your head could be next.
- Migraines. Twelve percent of the population experiences migraines, but a whopping 40 percent of patients with heart disease experience them.
- Muscle Cramping. Muscle cramping has been shown to be a significant sign of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a buildup of plaque in the legs’ arteries.
- Neck or Jaw Pain. Unexplained pain in the neck or jaw is a potential sign of angina, a heart problem that occurs when the organ lacks oxygen-rich blood. Women are more likely to exhibit these atypical symptoms than men.
- Shortness of Breath. Your body’s ability to exercise without getting winded relies on pumping blood. Sudden shortness of breath could be a sign that something’s wrong.
- Sleep Apnea. When people with sleep apnea experience an interruption in natural breathing, their bodies detect a lack of oxygen and force blood vessels to quickly tighten, causing a knee-jerk gasp for air. The stress on blood vessels could cause problems over time.
- Swollen Feet. The swelling is caused by a buildup of blood in your veins when they aren’t flowing properly.
- Swollen or Sore Gums. A problem in the gums closely ties to a problem with the heart, since they contain some of the same bacteria. Periodontal disease is often a sign of underlying heart problems.
- Unexplained Sweating. Unexplained bouts of extreme perspiration are a really bad sign. Say you’re sitting in your chair and suddenly become drenched — the sweating could be an early sign of an incoming heart attack.
Your diet, for instance, has an incredible effect on the health of your heart. Physical activity can keep your heart muscles in tip-top shape, just like it could any other muscle of your body. And not to get sappy on you, but even happiness can help — it actually decreases your heart disease risk as you age.
Even if you do everything in your power to prevent heart problems, they could still happen. Everyone is at risk — though some more than others — so knowing the signs and symptoms of an oncoming problem is crucial.
Ref. MSN/lifestyle, thedailymeal.com, iviglink.com
Photo courtesy of Bing