5 Heart Disease Symptoms Your Hands Can REVEAL

Cardiovascular conditions are the leading cause of death worldwide and take almost 18 million lives each year, that's roughly 30% of the global population.

Image on iStock

The heart is the center of your body’s functioning and is undoubtedly the most crucial organ, so it needs to be protected at all costs. You can survive with a broken bone or damaged kidney, but it’s challenging to keep going with an impaired heart.

Even though the gravity of heart disease is enormous, it comes with few preemptive warning signs. Take your hands, for example. Did you know they can predict an underlying cardiac disease?  That’s right! All you need to do is watch them closely, but what warning signs are you supposed to look out for? Today’s post will discuss all of that and a lot more. Let’s get started!


Image on Daily Express

Have you noticed tender, purple, or pink bumps at the end of your fingers? This is a sign that you might have an underlying cardiovascular condition called Osler nodes. If you feel a stinging sensation on your fingertips, it might be a warning that a tiny spot will appear soon, as these bumps are often preceded by mild pain. These lumps occur due to infective endocarditis, a life-threatening condition that causes inflammation of the cardiovascular system. This develops when the bloodstream becomes infected by germs and brings bacteria to the inner lining of your heart valves,  which attach to the muscle and contaminate your heart chambers. In severe situations, they produce toxins and enzymes that can damage the tissues and weaken your heart.

Those with an artificial valve, pacemaker, previous history of infective endocarditis, congenital heart issues, intravenous drug abuse habits, or a suppressed immune system are at a greater risk of developing this disease. Studies have shown that almost 30% of cases of endocarditis show Osler nodes as a symptom. It occurs because the bacterial infection that reaches your heart spreads through your blood vessels to the outermost layer of your skin. These bumps may seem trivial and might disappear in a day or two, but do not ignore their initial appearance completely.


Image on Daily Express

If you have been scratching your head and wondering what those red and bluish lines on your nails are, then it’s time to give yourself a break, as the mystery has been solved. Those tiny lines are your blood capillaries, and the reddish pigments you see along with these lines are blood spots. This condition is called a splinter hemorrhage. Splinter hemorrhages are when the tiny blood-carrying vessels in your nail bed (the skin beneath the nail) become damaged and burst, leaving you with small blood spots that might appear as cutting lines on your nails.

Splinter hemorrhages mainly occur because of three heart-related disorders:

1. Infective endocarditis is when the harmful bacteria that travels up your heart valve impairs its functioning, spreads to your blood vessels or veins, and causes severe damage. Sometimes, these vessels rupture and blood oozes out of them. When this happens to your hands and feet, it will partially show through your nails in the form of a splinter hemorrhage.

2. Vasculitis is a condition where your blood vessels become inflamed to the extent that they become thick and narrow, resulting in restricted blood flow. This can cut down the supply of essential nutrients and oxygen to your organs, especially your heart, and cause grave difficulties in functioning. A minimal blood supply would mean that your heart has to put in extra effort to pump more rigorously to keep your body functioning. This can even lead to a stroke or heart attack.

3. Diabetes: The disorder is synonymous with high amounts of sugar in your bloodstream. This excessive blood sugar damages and ruptures your blood vessels which in turn causes splinter hemorrhage. So, if you haven’t snubbed your toe or fingernail accidentally and still notice bleeding underneath your nail, then this could be a vital sign of a heart condition.


Image on Daily Express

The clubbing of nails is often characterized by softening of the tissue under your fingernails. In this condition, your fingernails swell up, grow wider, and become sponge-like. It completely changes the way the ends of your fingers look. They even feel warm upon touching. It starts with your thumb and gradually takes over to affect other fingers. Studies have shown around 40% of people admitted into hospitals with a severe health issue show clubbing of nails as one of the symptoms. Although it might be surprising to find out how a simple curvature in your nail can reflect upon an underlying health condition, it has been a well-known symptom for quite a long time, dating back to the era of Hippocrates. Its occurrence could be due to vascular disease, infective endocarditis, and heart inflammation. Heart surgery for congenital heart disease (a heart problem present from birth) could also cause your nails to bulge inwards. However, the most common cause of nail clubbing is a lung disorder, with around 80% of cases found in those with lung cancer.


Cardiac amyloidosis is a rare condition that results in numbness, tingling, pain, weakness, and wax-like bumps on the hands. It occurs due to the build-up of clumps of proteins called amyloid in your heart tissues. This build-up causes your heart to become stiff, which is referred to as stiff heart syndrome. This buildup of amyloids can cover your heart muscles over time and meddle with your heart’s essential functions. Your heart cannot pump blood effectively, leading to faulty heart signals and abnormal heart rhythms that manifest as palpitations or irregular heartbeats.

Cardiac amyloidosis reduces the amount of blood that reaches your heart, which is why one is likely to experience poor blood circulation. A restricted blood supply means that the organs of your body will receive little nutrition and oxygen; the same is true for your hands. When your hands don’t get enough oxygen, your grip becomes weak, you feel pain, and you end up having a wax-like texture on your hands. The condition can be inherited or result from another medical issue like bone or blood cancer. It is rarely seen in people under 40 and is more common in men than in women.


The red or purple, flat, and painless spots that develop on your palms are known as Janeway lesions. These lesions are vital signs of a heart issue, like infective endocarditis, a disorder that arises due to the infection caused by harmful bacteria in the inner lining of your heart. Janeway lesions are due to septic emboli, a condition where your blood vessels become obstructed because of an infected blood clot that might have traveled from an infected location in your body through the bloodstream and blocked a blood vessel.

Janeway lesions and Osler nodes are mostly overlapping occurrences; some may even find it hard to distinguish between the two. But you need not worry; we are here to wipe away all your confusion. 

This is how they differ: 

Janeway lesions occur in cases of acute endocarditis, whereas Osler nodes can develop in milder cases. Janeway lesions are flat and hard, unlike Osler nodes' which are soft and bumpy. They are of variable size and indefinite shapes, unlike their counterparts, which are less than 1 cm in diameter. And remember, Janeway lesions last longer than Osler nodes, ranging from a few weeks to days, as opposed to a short range of a few hours to days.

Who knew your hands could reveal so much about your health? Now…are you physically active, cutting down on processed foods, and avoiding smoking? Studies have shown that 80% of deaths due to heart disease are preventable by making minor changes in your lifestyle patterns. So, what’s stopping you? Adopt good habits and welcome a healthy future with open arms. Want to know more about your heart’s well-being? Read 10 Foods That Decrease Your Risk Of A Heart Attack Or 19 Foods That Improve Unhealthy Lungs And Help You Breathe Easy Go ahead! Click one, or better yet, read both. Share this post with friends and family, and let us know if your hands have had any symptoms of heart disease in the comments below!

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.