The grim reality of heart disease
For the last 15 years, heart disease has taken the cake as the leading natural cause of death in the United States. Conditions here include everything from ischemic heart disease to complications of hypertension.
Luckily, we have inbuilt health alarm systems that warn us when something isn’t right. Below are 8 of these heart problems warning signs that everyone needs to know about. That way, whether you want to monitor yourself or your sweet old granny you know exactly what to the lookout for.
8: Swollen legs
This is one of the most important heart problems warning signs. It often presents as swelling on both lower limbs. The extent of the swelling depends on the severity of the condition and increases from the level of the feet up to the ankles and eventually to the legs and knees.
This is a common sign of heart failure especially when the chambers receiving blood from the body are the ones affected. Here, the heart is not able to pump efficiently leading to fluid buildup in the periphery.
7: Breathing difficulties
The heart and lungs are the body’s resident BFFs; to put it in the simplest (and perhaps most sacrilegious) terms. Essentially, when one system isn’t working right then the other inevitably suffers. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that one of the most important and accurate group of heart disease early signs and symptoms involve breathing.
This manifests in a number of ways including shortness of breath, sleep apnea, and general difficulties in breathing. The mechanism behind this involves heart failure affecting the right side chambers. When they fail, fluid builds up in the lungs which in turn results in all this trouble.
6: Actual chest pain
Another one of the most important cardiovascular disease warning signs is a pain. This could be as a result of anything from angina and heart attacks to heart failure and cardiomyopathies.
What is important to distinguish is the character and specific location of the pain. Don’t worry, no one expects you to become an overnight expert on chest pains. However, should you experience any it would be wise to take note of these characteristics so you can give your doctor a clearer picture of the situation?
5: Neck, shoulder and left arm pain
These are serious warning signs of heart disease and often point to emergencies. More often than not, pain radiating to the neck, shoulder and left arm are associated with ischemic heart diseases like angina and heart attacks. To put it simply, this is when your heart muscles don’t get an adequate supply of things like oxygen and nutrients leading to their failure or death.
Should you experience such pains, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. This is because of all the signs discussed previously and in subsequent sections, no group is as threatening and deserving of emergency status as this one.
4: Skin changes and blemishes
The skin is not spared when it comes to heart disease early signs and symptoms. Common changes include blue discolouration and pale skin. This is as a result of heart failure with subsequent inadequacy of supply to the skin and other organs.
There are also other very specific skin blemishes and spots that are found mainly on the hands and soles of feet. These point to infections and inflammatory processes affecting the heart. They are harder to distinguish as a non-medical professional so make sure to point out any new marks during your regular doctor visits
3: Fainting spells
Fainting can be a result of either neurological processes or cardiologic ones. With the latter, failure of the heart to pump adequate amounts of blood to the brain is to blame. With heart disease-related fainting spells, in particular, things, like lying down and cooling down, helps minimize the frequency. They also stand out as they are often accompanied by one or more of the other symptoms and signs highlighted in this list.
2: Exercise intolerance and fatigue
Have you been having trouble making the same on-foot commute to work? Does that flight of stairs on your walkup seem a little harder to tackle? This could be an important cardiovascular disease warning sign that you shouldn’t ignore.
The heart supplies your lungs and muscles with blood which makes physical activities bearable. In the event that it is not working right, your abilities and resilience take a major hit. So if you or someone else has noticed some intolerance to activities previously easily done, then plan a visit to your doctor as soon as possible.
1: A cough that just won’t go away
Finally, when looking out for heart disease early signs and symptoms, any suspicious coughs should be on your radar. These point to the involvement of the lungs in the heart disease and are often associated with breathing difficulties. You should particularly be concerned in the event that you produce pinkish frothy sputum when coughing. Whatever the case, it is always best to get it checked out to rule out other conditions and start treatment promptly.
Now that you know all the major warning signs of heart disease, it is unlikely that you will be caught off guard. It is also important as you look out for these warnings that you make sure to take active steps to protect yourself from lifestyle-related heart diseases. This means watching what you eat, maintaining healthy body weight, and making physical activity a part of your daily routine.