Most people are aware of symptoms of Heart Disease, shortness of breath and chest pain, pain in the left arm (more prominent in Men). However, symptoms and signs of Heart Disease are more subtle and varied.
Symptoms are indications that a person physically experiences while signs of the disease are something your Doctor can see or finds through tests. Knowing signs to look for are very important, especially if Heart Disease runs in your family.
So what should you look for and discuss with your Doctor in order for him/her to check by running appropriate lab work or possibly a stress test.
- Swelling of lower legs and feet, better known as Edema. Edema is an accumulation or retention of fluid in legs and feet. Fluid retention although not always indicative of Heart Disease, but it could be an important symptom.
- Male pattern baldness; Hold on “Guys” if you are bald it isn’t necessarily Heart Disease. However if a man is balding on the top or has a complete loss of hair he could be at increased risk. Men who have crown hair loss have a risk increase of about 23% and for men that are completely bald that percentage is even higher at 36%. A combined history of hair loss, high cholesterol, excessive weight and high blood pressure can push the risk even higher still.
- Yellow bumps on the skin, otherwise known as Xanthomas. Xanthomas may develop on the buttocks, feet, hands, elbows or knees, appearing as small Yellow bumps or as flat wide plaques. These plaques are fat deposits which can indicate High levels of fats in the blood which contributes to Heart Disease.
- Gum Disease; Although fairly new connection to Heart Disease the link between the two can be a sign of poor circulation, or another theory is that the common bacteria present in gum disease is also causing plaque build up in the coronary arteries.
- Emotional Stress; also known as Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy (literally Broken Heart Syndrome) this condition indicates a weakening of heart muscle accompanied by extreme emotional stress and is more prevalent in Women, only affecting approximately 10% of people diagnosed. What is experienced during the occurrence of this condition can be a surge in stress hormones like adrenaline, one could experience feelings associated with a Heart attack, such as shortness of breath, flushing of the skin, heart palpitations and cardiac pain. If you’ve been diagnosed with this condition, it isn’t a real Heart attack you’re experiencing because generally the Arteries are not blocked.
What signs should you discuss with your Doctor?
- Weight gain- usually demonstrates when fluid builds up in your tissue and can indicate your heart may be failing.
- To many Bathroom trips- Heart failure often causes a decreased blood flow to the Kidneys which can lead to fluid retention, thus you’re visiting the “Lu” more often.
- Coughing at Night- With Heart Disease when you lay down flat at night a build up of fluid can occur in your chest and heart which can lead to coughing.
- Lastly Cataracts- Though the exact relationship between Heart Disease and Cataracts isn’t certain some research studies hypothesise that people who have cataracts are at higher risk for Heart Disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Keep in mind that Experiencing these symptoms does not mean you have Heart Disease, they are simply items that you should talk with your healthcare provider about sooner rather than later.