According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women. Because of education and advances in treatment, fewer people are falling victim to the disease. However, blocked arteries are still the number one cause of death in the United States. The risk is increased even more with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, inactivity and smoking.
For some, a heart attack is the first sign of heart disease. But sometimes, the body can provide more subtle hints that something is wrong. In today’s blog, we’ll discuss eight hidden symptoms that may indicate heart disease. Because various other things could also cause these symptoms, we recommend chatting with your doctor if you’re concerned about any of these listed.
We’re not referring to a lack of sleep, but a serious level of tiredness. In other words, how you feel when you have the flu (but it doesn’t seem to go away). Many people shrug off this symptom and assume they’ll feel better the next day, but it could be your heart telling you something.
People often experience tiredness due to a lack of oxygen. More specifically, the heart is struggling to deliver oxygen throughout your body to other organs. That being said, people can feel tired for various reasons. If this is your only symptom, it doesn’t conclude heart disease. However, if feelings of extreme tiredness persist, it’s important to talk to your doctor.
2. Swollen Feet or Ankles
Swelling (that leaves an indention when you press your finger) can occur due to kidney disease, liver failure or more common things like varicose veins, inactivity, pregnancy or high sodium levels. But, it can also signify that your heart is pumping blood inefficiently or that the valve isn’t closing correctly.
Heart-related swelling of the legs is commonly accompanied by shortness of breath and fatigue. The swelling can also be a side effect of some blood pressure and diabetes medications.
3. Unexplained Pain When Walking
Do you feel pain in your leg muscles as you walk, but then it subsides when you rest? While aging or lack of exercise could be the reason, it could also be a sign of peripheral arterial disease (PAD). This occurs when a buildup of fatty plaque takes place in your leg arteries.
If you have PAD, there’s a chance you may have a blockage in one of your heart arteries too. Luckily, it’s treatable like many heart disease symptoms. If you’re feeling sharp pain with leg movement, refer to your doctor and discuss potential causes and solutions for the ailment.
4. Dizziness or Lightheadedness
Much like tiredness, this is a symptom that may or may not occur due to a heart-related cause. When you exercise strenuously, your body may give you warning signs to stop. This often happens in activities like running, cycling, elliptical usage but can also happen when you’re dehydrated. You may also experience dizziness when you sit up too quickly.
If you feel light headed on a regular basis, speak with your doctor to see if any medication side effects or inner ear problems, anemia or other ailments may be causing it. If not, the dizziness may be caused by a blockage in your arteries that is lessening blood pressure.
5. Fatigue or Shortness of Breath
Have you ever felt out of breath after walking up a flight of stairs? Even if you exercise regularly, you may also experience fatigue due to asthma, anemia or infection. But, it could also point to a problem with your heart valve’s ability to pump blood. Fluid buildup taking place in the left side of the heart can produce coughing or wheezing. Once the buildup releases, you’re able to gain more oxygen to the lungs – allowing you to breathe easier.
While exercise can strengthen your heart, it’s important to discuss this symptom with your doctor if you’re experiencing shortness of breath with light to moderate movements.
A headache is one thing, but experiencing migraines on a regular basis may signify something’s going on with your heart. Migraines occur in 12 percent of the general population. However, according to NCBI, that number jumps to 40 percent in patients with heart disease.
While there isn’t a sure-fire connection, migraines with auras have been linked with heart abnormalities. It’s possible that regular migraines may be a hidden symptom of heart disease or a nervous system imbalance.
7. Heart Palpitations
Do you ever hear your heart beating as your trying to fall asleep? The term “palpitations” means a heartbeat that feels rapid or irregular. Most are harmless and are caused by anxiety, caffeine or dehydration but it could also indicate a heart problem.
While you’re able to adjust your position to the sound, it doesn’t mean you should ignore it. If your heart is pounding on a regular basis, it’s important to contact your doctor. While it could signify heart disease, it can also point to low blood pressure, low blood sugar, anemia or dehydration.
8. Sudden Sweating and Nausea
When you’re feeling anxious, you may suddenly experience sweating and nausea. While these are common symptoms of a panic attack, they’re also the same for a heart attack.
If shortness of breath, fatigue or pain in the chest radiates towards the back, get to an emergency room immediately. According to the Wall Street Journal, those who arrive at the hospital within an hour of a heart attack often have a better survival rate than those who wait.
Don’t Play the Guessing Game
Chest pain isn’t always present in people with heart disease. This is why it’s important to know the hidden symptoms and screen early. While symptoms can be provoked and relieved by medication, a heart scan can uncover underlying abnormalities that may save your life.
To learn more about heart disease and how a heart scan can help you take back control of your health, reach out to our team today at (918) 203-8000.