Many people associate heart disease with obvious symptoms, such as chest pain. But there are less obvious links, like swollen feet or bleeding gums, that should also warrant a cardiac exam.
The classic red flags for a heart attack are familiar to anyone who has watched medical dramas on TV. The patient, usually an elderly man, begins to wheeze and gasp. Then he clings to his chest, staggers and eventually falls. In real life, the signs and symptoms of heart disease are much more varied and subtle.
Signs and symptoms of heart disease
All d First, some definitions. Symptoms of heart disease are indications you feel or experience, while a sign of heart disease is something your doctor can see or find. Obvious symptoms of heart disease include shortness of breath and chest pain. But your doctor will also look for common signs of heart disease during an exam or patient interview.
It is important to know the signs of heart disease because you can have them before you have the common symptoms of heart disease.
1 Swelling of the feet and legs
Retention of fluid in the feet and legs is known as peripheral edema. Edema may appear as “sock marks” on your legs and ankles at the end of the day. Especially if you wear tight socks or stockings. Mild peripheral edema is common. Your doctor can check for this sign by pressing a finger on your ankle or shin to see if a depression or lump is left behind.
Edema can be a sign of heart failure because when your heart does not pump well, fluid from inside your blood vessels tends to leak into surrounding tissue. The legs and ankles are common areas of edema due to the effects of gravity.
2 Male pattern baldness
Several large studies have confirmed the link between baldness and heart disease. Compared to men with full hair, men with crown baldness have an increased risk of heart disease of approximately 23 %. Men with complete hair loss on the top of the head have an increased risk of 36 percent.
The combination of hair loss, high blood pressure and high cholesterol further increases the risk. This link may be due to too much testosterone, a male hormone that interferes with hair growth on the head and causes hardening of the arteries. It doesn’t mean you’re doomed to heart disease if you’re bald. But it does suggest that you should be examined more carefully for other signs and symptoms of heart disease.
3 Yellow bumps on the skin
Xanthomas are fatty deposits that accumulate under the skin. They may appear as small yellow bumps or large, flat patches on the elbows, knees, hands, feet, or buttocks. A type of xanthoma called xanthelasma palpebrarum appears on the eyelids. These yellow, fatty deposits can potentially be signs of heart disease. Because they can indicate high levels of fats in the blood.
5 Gum disease
Swollen, painful or bleeding gums are usually the sign of poor oral hygiene. But they can also be an important sign of heart disease. The association between gum disease and heart disease is very real. There is now a lot of research that confirms this link.
Gum disease and heart disease may be linked because they are both signs of poor circulation, or there could be common bacteria that are implicated in both gum disease and plaque buildup inside coronary arteries. The link may also have to do with the body’s response to prolonged inflammation. Either way, taking care of your teeth and gums can be a good way to reduce your risk of heart disease.
6 Emotional stress
Weakening of the heart muscle accompanied by extreme emotional stress, grief or loss, especially in women, is called Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or broken heart syndrome. When this happens, the surge of stress hormones, especially adrenaline, triggers heart pain that looks a lot like a heart attack. There are often heart palpitations, shortness of breath and flushing. But unlike a real heart attack, the arteries are not blocked. This potentially serious and often overlooked condition is more common in women than in men. In fact, men represent only 10% of diagnosed cases.
Signs of heart failure
Heart failure means that the heart is not working as well as it should. This does not mean that the heart is failing. Heart failure is also called congestive heart failure. Heart failure gets progressively worse over time. It may have some warning signs:
If your heart begins to fail and fluid begins to build up in your tissues, causing edema, you may experience sudden weight gain.
The Heart failure can cause decreased blood flow to the kidneys. This forces you to retain more fluid. One of the signs of this fluid may be frequent urination.
Although the exact cause of the relationship between cataracts and heart disease is not known, studies show that people who have cataracts are at higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. This link is probably more of an association than a sign of heart disease
One of the signs of insufficiency heart failure can be the buildup of fluid in the chest and heart when lying flat at night. This buildup of fluid can cause a nighttime cough.
Remember that all of these signs of heart disease can have different causes. They do not mean that you have or will have heart disease.
But, combined with other signs and symptoms of heart disease, your blood tests and family history, they give your doctor the best chance of detecting heart disease early and keeping you healthy.
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