According to a recent study by the American Heart Association, about 121.5 million people in 2016 and nearly half of adults in the United States have dealt with some form of cardiovascular disease. Moreover, nearly 24 million (or 9 percent of) adults suffer from more serious symptoms of the disease such as clogged arteries, heart failure, or the aftereffects of stroke.
Cardiovascular disease symptoms, especially high blood pressure (defined as a reading of at least 130 or a bottom reading of 80), is rampant in the United States. In fact, nearly 1 in every 3 adults have prehypertension, the beginning stage of high blood pressure. Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death as well, causing more than 1,100 deaths each day in the U.S.
So, it is important to watch out for the following 13 heart disease symptoms and signs, especially if they appear in conjunction with one another:
1. Any chest discomfort
Chest discomfort is the most common and also an early sign of heart disease. Also known as angina, it tends to feel like either a steady pressure or a constant throbbing pain. It is usually caused by blockage of arteries or having a heart attack. In addition to chest discomfort, you may also experience shortage of breath, sweating, and/or weakness.
Often, the pain may last for several minutes. If you’re experiencing pain for only a few seconds, chances are it is either a muscle spasm or something else. However, it is best to consult with your doctor just to be safe.
2. Nausea, indigestion, heartburn, and stomach pain
Some people report having these symptoms during a heart attack, more so with women. Keep in mind that you may have nausea, stomach pain, or any of these symptoms for many other reasons besides your heart. However, if you experience more than one of them in conjunction, you may be having a heart attack or be at risk of having one.
3. Sleep apnea
While the rest of these symptoms are typically results of heart problems, sleep apnea is a condition that can both cause and be caused by heart issues. Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep multiple times regularly. This means the brain and the the body may not get enough oxygen, which over time, puts extra stress on your heart and may raise your risk of having high blood pressure, arrhythmia, stroke, or heart failure. If you often wake up feeling tired, visit your doctor for a full examination to see whether or not you have sleep apnea. Often times, but not always, this condition is treatable.
4. Poor grip strength
Your grip strength can be influenced by whether or not you exercise regularly. However, if you find that it is hard for you to grasp tightly onto objects, the chances are higher of you having or developing heart problems. Conversely, having strong grip strength may indicate lower risk of heart disease.
5. Dizziness or lightheadedness
In cases besides sleeping too little, not eating enough, or standing up too quickly, experiencing lightheadedness is also a common sign of heart problems and is caused by your heart not pumping enough blood to your brain. Dizziness could be a sign of arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) or worse: heart failure, meaning the heart is unable to pump blood at the levels the brain and body require.
6. Easily fatigued
If you suddenly feel tired after doing something you had no problem doing previously, such as climbing the stairs, it may be a sign of heart disease. Should you find that you are affected by extreme tiredness or unexplained weakness, sometimes for days at a time, it may be a symptom of heart disease, especially in women. If you experience any such symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor.
7. Sudden cold sweats
If you’ve just completed a nerve-racking task or received some exciting news, you may experience cold sweats. This is completely normal and is your body’s natural reaction to these kinds of situations. However, if you find yourself having cold sweats randomly and for no apparent reason, especially if you also experience any of these other symptoms, seek medical attention right away.
8. Irregular heartbeat or palpitations
Palpitations are instances where your heart beats either irregularly or rapidly. A missed or additional heartbeat here and there is completely normal, especially if you’re experiencing anxiety, drinking caffeine, or even dehydrated. But in some instances, it can be an indicator of heart disease. If you frequently experience heart palpitations or irregular heart beat when at rest or at random times, be sure to consult your doctor.
9. Yellow-orange bumpy rashes
According to WebMD, if you have yellow-orange bumpy rashes that occur around your knuckles, toes, or on your bottom, this can be caused by elevated levels of triglyceride. High levels of these fats in your blood may play a role in hardening your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, too.
10. Sexual dysfunction
As a general practice, if you experience several of these symptoms, you should bring it up with your doctor, including erectile dysfunction, in men, which may be an indicator of cholesterol buildup, causing narrowed arteries or circulation problems related to high blood pressure. In women, heart issues can result in lower levels of libido and loss of interest in sex.
11. Long-lasting coughing
While coughing every now and then is common, a prolonged cough that continues without getting better can be a sign of heart problems. Coughing that lasts for a long time and produces white or pink mucus may mean that the heart can’t keep up with the body’s demands, and blood is leaking into the lungs, which could be a sign of heart disease. Definitely ask your doctor to examine the cause of your cough just to be safe.
12. Swelling in the lower legs
When your lower legs are swollen, it may be a sign of heart disease, as your heart may not be pumping blood effectively enough, which may cause blood to accumulate in the lower legs, causing them to become bloated. Bloating also happens when heart failure makes it harder for the kidneys to remove extra water and sodium from the body.
13. Bleeding Gums
Studies suggest that bleeding, swollen, or tender gums can lead to trouble with your heart. Experts believe that bacteria from the gums may get into your bloodstream and cause inflammation in the heart.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.