Researchers have done a lot of work over the past several years to conclude that there are several seemingly insignificant symptoms that can arise in different parts of the body that could be pointing to a heart issue. So now is the time to get informed in order to help catch and prevent any heart issues later on!
1. Chest or Shoulder Pain
Surprisingly, one of the most common signs of coronary heart disease (CAD) is Angina, which is pressure and pain in your chest. Unlike the sharp pain of a heart attack, Angina is typified with a deep ache and constricting feeling on your chest, that is often magnified when you take a deep breath. Sometimes this type of sign and symptom is often missed because people mistake it for heartburn. This pain can also spread to the arm, neck, shoulders and jaw, where it is further mistaken for muscle pain.
Unlike a pulled muscle, Angina typically manifests itself as a prolonged pain, rather than a pain that comes and goes eventually.
17 million people have Angina, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and it is roughly the same in men and women. Angina occurs when the arteries in the heart get clogged with plaque build-up and episodes can occur when the heart is under stress or when the body is exercising.
How Angina Is Treated
Your doctor will probably prescribe you a medication called Nitroglycerin, which relaxes the veins that are pumping blood to the heart, allowing them not to have to work so hard. They will also probably tell you to take it easy and rest if you feel an episode coming on.
2. Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath is commonly an early sign of heart disease or lung disease and feels like compression on your chest as well as not being able to catch up with your breath. This type of labored breathing may also be experienced at night as well as any time you are laying down.
According to the Harvard School Medical Health Guide, 95% of women who have had heart attacks claimed they had experienced certain forms of labored breathing and unusual symptoms either a few weeks or months before their heart attack.
Shortness of breath occurs when there is not enough oxygen in your blood because the heart isn’t pumping strong enough. It feels similar to exerting yourself in high altitudes and you don’t feel like you can get enough oxygen in your lungs.
3. Sexual Problems
For doctors, a big alert to a progressive heart disease is the presence of erectile dysfunction in males and this is the first thing that should be ruled out when a doctor is seeing a patient with this issue. According to the Mayo Clinic, men in the age range of 40-49 who had erectile dysfunction were twice as likely to develop heart disease. Furthermore, in another study, results showed that 2 out of 3 men who were being treated for cardiovascular disease, also had a previous history of erectile dysfunction. With this being said, if you or a loved one has erectile dysfunction, they should have their heart checked as soon as possible.
4. Sleep Apnea or Snoring
A big complication to the heart is restricted breathing during sleep. According to the American College of Cardiology, those with sleep apnea were found to be 3x more likely of having cardiovascular disease. Because there is airway obstruction with sleep apnea and snoring, the heart has to pump twice as hard to support the lungs. If you have either of these, going to a sleep specialist and having a sleep study performed is the most proactive way to take care of your health.
5. Bleeding, Swollen or Sore Gums
These are all symptoms of periodontal disease, which occurs from exposure to bacteria within the mouth, causing gums to hurt and become inflamed, and then the gums start to separate from the teeth.
According to the American Academy of Periodontology, research has begun linking poor circulation in the heart to periodontal disease. And researchers continue to study whether there is a connection between plaque build up in the heart and gum disease, which could both be responses to the body’s prolonged inflammation.
Additional studies have also established a connection between periodontal disease and strokes, due to an oral infection in the mouth spreading to the heart.
If you have any of these symptoms, don’t wait to see a periodontist and even maybe a heart specialist to ensure you’re taking care of your mouth and heart.
6. Swollen Legs & Feet
Ever notice that your shoes are tighter than normal? Or notice that your hands and wrists are puffy? Do you constantly have indentation marks from socks once you take them off? These could all be factors of fluid retention, and furthermore be a sign of cardiovascular disease or heart failure.
Why Does the Body Get Swollen & Puffy?
The body holds on to fluids when the heart doesn’t pump fast enough, and therefore waste products are not removed from tissue. If you notice any of these symptoms, report them to your doctor, who can determine if your heart is healthy.
7. Having an Irregular Heart Beat or Arrhythmia
Coronary artery disease, which restricts blood flow to the heart, is most commonly seen through symptoms of an irregular heartbeat. Heart failure is caused when the heart beats too hard and fast as it is trying to overcompensate from the arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).
What to Do?
Go have an EKG performed, which measures the heart’s electrical activity. A stress test can also measure your heart rate, to make sure it is pumping properly.