15 Early Warning Signs Of Heart Disease You Should Lookout For

Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States? What’s shocking is that one person dies every 36 seconds from heart disease. 

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Heart issues do not happen immediately, and they don’t always come with warning bells like pain in the chest, breathlessness, or palpitations. In fact, some symptoms start way before a heart attack or stroke occurs. This makes it difficult to identify the real issue. Knowing the early warning signs of heart disease can help you before it’s too late. In today’s post, we will tell you the early signs you may be at a risk for heart disease. From persistent cough, anxiety, shortness of breath, and high cholesterol to lack of stamina and more read till the end to learn about all of them.

#1. Upset Stomach:

One heart-related symptom that is not as common as chest pain is an upset stomach which might manifest as a stomach ache, vomiting, or acidity. Since these symptoms are generally associated with the flu or stomach infection, they get overlooked when it comes to heart disease. However, if you believe that your last meal should not have led to these symptoms then it is important to get medical attention. Remember that women have a greater chance of experiencing an upset stomach in relation to heart disease.

What foods cause you to have an upset stomach? Tell us quickly down below in the comments section!

#2. Persistent Cough:

A persistent cough doesn’t always mean your heart has a problem because it’s a common symptom of many things like a cold, the flu, and bronchitis. A never-ending cough can be fluid building up in your lungs, which is a sign of congestive heart failure. When the heart is not able to pump efficiently, blood can back up into the veins that take blood through the lungs. As the pressure in these blood vessels increases, fluid is pushed into the lungs. The cough is caused by irritation and fluid, which is similar to shortness of breath.

#3. Random Cold Sweats:

Just because you sweat doesn’t mean you’re going to have a heart attack. Sweating is a natural, healthy function the body goes through to cool itself down. Sweating, especially cold sweats, could mean a problem with your heart when you’re not doing anything physical, particularly when there’s chest pain along with it. The sweat may come from your body trying to cool down the inflammation around the heart.

#4. Anxiety:

People who suffer from heart ailments may experience bouts of anxiety and heart palpitations. Studies have also shown that people who deal with extreme anxiety from very early in their lives are more prone to heart disease. Anxiety can be caused by a stressful lifestyle or mental health disorders. Another common symptom of anxiety is an abnormally increased heart rate, also known as heart palpitations. People with irregular heart rates are likely to be at risk of heart complications.

#5. Leg Pain:

General achiness or a cramping sensation in your legs can be a sign of peripheral artery disease or PAD. It’s a form of cardiovascular disease that’s characterized by constricted blood flow to the extremities including your arms and legs. Oftentimes, the pain will occur during physical activity and subside with rest. You don’t need to call your doctor, but you should schedule an appointment and mention your symptoms. PAD is more common in smokers and people with diabetes. Interested yet? Make sure you join our millions of followers and hit that “Subscribe” button for all our great Healthy Mind - Think Big content!

6. Swollen Ankles:

Swollen ankles or feet can be a symptom of heart failure. Of course, many other conditions including pregnancy can cause swelling of the lower extremities, so don’t panic. However, if your feet or legs are constantly swollen at the end of the day, mention it to your doctor. Additional testing may be necessary to figure out what’s causing the swelling. Many people feel better after heart disease treatment, realizing they had been unwell but did not attribute symptoms to a heart condition.

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#7. Unexplained Fatigue:

It’s normal to feel tired after a day of hard work. It’s not normal to feel completely wiped out after getting dressed. Inadequate blood supply to the tissues - a cardinal sign of cardiovascular disease - can cause fatigue. Your body may not be getting enough oxygen to function well. It’s also common for women to feel severely tired before or during a heart attack. Of course, there are many reasons to feel tired. Blood and heart tests can help determine the cause of unexplained fatigue. 

#8. You Get Dizzy or Light-Headed:

Again, this is one of those symptoms that can have many non-heart related causes. This symptom could be caused by dehydration or because you got up too quick. But if it occurs on a regular basis medication side effects, inner ear problems, anemia, or, less commonly, heart issues could be to blame. This spinning state could be caused by a blockage in the arteries that lessen blood pressure or by faulty valves that cannot maintain blood pressure. 

#9. You’re Depressed:

Depression is one of the most common problems in the world, and it affects 19 million Americans each year. It is probably not a sign that you have heart trouble. But mental well-being is linked to physical well-being. Many studies suggest that people who are depressed are at greater risk of heart trouble. People who are at risk for or have heart disease tend to be depressed. Either way, it's another reason to seek help.

#10. Chest Discomfort:

Also known as angina, chest discomfort is one of the more obvious signs of an unhealthy heart. If you feel pressure, pain, pinching, or burning in the chest, the heart is a likely culprit. Fleeting pain, pain that seems to be on the surface, or pains that worsen when touched, are all less likely to indicate a heart condition. This pain doesn’t change with external pressure and may occur either at rest or during physical exertion. Even if the pain is not severe, it may indicate serious heart trouble and needs to be followed up on. Remember, hundreds of thousands of “silent “heart attacks occur every year in the US alone. Many symptoms can be deceptively mild.

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#11. High Cholesterol:

Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in a number of foods and is also made by your liver. High cholesterol can contribute to plaque in the arteries. One of the ways you can lower your cholesterol is by eating a healthy diet. Your physician may prescribe medications to treat cholesterol that also lower your risk of a heart attack. Talk to your cardiologist about heart-healthy foods and monitor your cholesterol to reduce the chances of heart disease. One of the best ways to manage your cholesterol is by avoiding foods that increase your cholesterol levels.

#12. Lack of Stamina:

We associate exercise with a healthy heart. But remember, a sedentary lifestyle is a risk factor for heart disease. Heart disease can and does happen to people with active lifestyles and vigorous exercise routines, specifically if they have an underlying heart condition. Change in your body’s tolerance to exercise may be a useful early warning sign of oncoming heart failure.

#13. Shortness of Breath:

Besides the heartbeat, the involuntary inhaling and exhaling of the lungs go unnoticed by most people when it is working properly. When it stops working properly, however, it becomes very noticeable. Shortness of breath is the sensation of not being able to breathe efficiently. The lungs may feel heavy, or the patient may feel compelled to breath rapidly and shallowly. Shortness of breath may result from anxiety, anemia, or allergic reactions, but the underlying cause is usually lungs or heart trouble. A dangerous heart problem may first reveal itself through sudden shortness of breath. Other times, shortness of breath develops gradually. It may be a sign of aortic disease, arrhythmia, or heart failure.  Whether sudden or gradual, shortness of breath is never a symptom to take lightly.

#14. Left Shoulder Pain:

Interestingly, the nerves in the left arm and in the heart can send messages to the same pain centers of the brain. So, the brain may interpret heart trouble as pain in the left arm or shoulder. This is known as a ‘Referred Pain’. And just because it isn’t in the chest doesn’t mean it is unrelated to the heart, or that the specific issue is located in the shoulder. In fact, pain or pressure in the left shoulder is a classic sign of an unhealthy heart. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience sustained pain or pressure in the left arm or shoulder, especially if it is accompanied by other signs of heart distress, like shortness of breath.

#15. Sleep Apnea:

Sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing stops and restarts intermittently during sleep. It is commonly associated with snoring, but not every case of sleep apnea coincides with snoring, and not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. It can be a damaging sleep condition, leading to prediabetes and possible heart disease. Many conditions can cause sleep apnea, including age, obesity, diabetes, and abuse of alcohol or some prescription drugs. However, it could also be caused by heart failure, which could hamper brain function like the involuntary breathing reflex. People with sleep apnea should get their heart health checked regularly.

While these signs can help you predict whether you’re going to have heart problems, one of the best ways to make sure you have a healthy heart is by cleaning up your diet. This means eating heart-friendly foods and avoiding the bad stuff. Learn more about what we are talking about by reading: Top 14 Healthy Foods You Should Eat Every Day Or 14 Great Fruits That Can Double As Medicine. So go ahead and read one or both of these posts if you want better heart health. 

Have you ever had heart trouble? What were some early symptoms? Let us know in the comments section below!

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The information I provided in this blog is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. You should never use content in my writing as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or another qualified clinician. Please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if indicated for medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. I am not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information in this blog. Thank you.

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