Does heart disease run in your family? Do you have a history of eating unhealthy foods and exercising only intermittently? Are you worried that you might be at risk for experiencing heart problems? If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions, then continue reading to discover the warning signs of heart problems so that you can stop problems where they start or even before they begin. If you are ready to change some unhealthy habits now in the service of helping your heart be the healthiest it can be, then let's get started with learning about these major warning signs.
An Irregular Heart Beat
If an individual has an irregular heartbeat, there is a chance that they may have had it since they were an infant. However, this condition can also develop later on in life, which is called atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat that is caused by the top part of the heart, the atria, not working in sync with the bottom part, the ventricles, which are supposed to work together, as the timing of these contractions is what pumps the blood throughout the body. Instead, the atria does it's own thing, and speeds up, hence why the heartbeat becomes irregular. This condition increases a patient's risk of suffering a stroke or heart disease, and its symptoms typically include dizziness, weakness, and fatigue. Patients usually feel their heart skip a beat or two, which they should get analyzed by a doctor immediately.
Vomiting Or Stomach Pain
If a patient experiences intense stomach pains, and they begin to feel nauseated or begin to vomit, this could be an early warning sign of an impending heart attack. Statistics indicate that women are more likely to experience vomiting, indigestion and stomach pain as precursors to a heart attack, however, men can experience these symptoms as well. The one essential thing the patient should do is to keep a mental record or to document all of the symptoms they are experiencing so they can alert medical professionals of these symptoms in case it is early warning signs of a heart attack, and not a stomach virus. Specifically, if an individual vomits and experiences consistent chest pain that lasts for a few minutes or more, they may very well be experiencing a heart attack. In this case, the patient should call 9-1-1 immediately to get emergency help and follow the operator's instructions. In the event of a heart attack, every second counts between life and death.
If an individual suddenly finds themselves exhausted from doing routine tasks that were once part of their day, such as getting the mail, walking around the block with their dog, or retrieving the paper from the driveway, then they should consult their doctor right away. This is not the physical exhaustion someone might feel after running a marathon, as this is a type of exhaustion that happens unexpectedly that wipes someone out from doing the simple things that were easy for them just the day before. Being tired and experiencing exhaustion is a classic symptom of heart problems, and of an impending heart attack, especially for women. Therefore, patients should monitor how tired they feel and what causes this wave of exhaustion to occur and should get checked out by a doctor immediately, as their life could depend on it.
Jaw Pain That Has Travelled
If a patient has ever experienced jaw pain, they might have felt it when they had a very bad cold or a sinus infection. This alone is not a sign of heart problems. However, jaw pain can indicate the presence of heart problems and a heart attack. Specifically, a patient will want to pay attention to how the jaw pain travels. If the patient senses pain or tightness in their chest, and the pain travels up to the jaw and its surrounding area, they should seek emergency medical attention immediately, as this is a common sign of the patient experiencing a heart attack. Specifically, the pain will affect the lower jaw more than the upper jaw as well. Even if the pain stops in the throat or if the individual cannot truly indicate what spot the pain has migrated to within the jaw region, they should still seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Do you or your partner snore, and if so, is it loud? It is fairly common for individuals to snore when they sleep, but there is a certain level of snoring that could be a cause for concern and could indicate a patient may be dealing with heart issues. For instance, if an individual is snoring incredibly loudly and sounds like they are gasping for air, then they could have a condition known as sleep apnea. This condition is described as the process in which the body stops breathing for a few seconds and then tries to recover.
Sleep apnea can be addressed by a doctor, and modern technology can help regulate a patient’s breathing by using an oxygen ventilator with a mask while they sleep. However, an individual should get tested for sleep apnea through a sleep study, as this condition can put an extreme amount of pressure on the heart, and to rule out any other possible heart issues the patient may be afflicted with.
In many cases, a persistent cough that a patient can not get rid of is a sign of the common cold. However, it also can be a sign of heart failure if the patient is coughing up white or pink blood-tinged mucus, due to blood getting into the lungs. Specifically, chronic coughing or wheezing is due to fluid congestion, or a buildup of fluid in the lungs, and is a common sign of heart failure, hence why doctors refer to it as congestive heart failure (CHF). The heart may not be able to keep pace with the demands the body is putting on it, resulting in blood getting into the lungs and causing a buildup of fluid. If a patient continuously experiences a chronic cough for months that they can not get rid of, then they should have their doctor check it out as soon as possible to determine if it is caused by heart failure.
Elongated chest pain is the primary sign of a heart attack. This is not a pain that hits the chest for just a moment. Most heart attacks involve an intense discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts approximately seven minutes, or that goes away and comes back. This pain is often described as an uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. However, not all chest pain is associated with a heart attack. Chest pain can also be angina, which is intense chest pain that is not a heart attack, but mimics the intensity of one, as this pain or discomfort is caused by the heart muscle not receiving enough oxygen-rich blood to different parts of it, and it can feel like pressure or squeezing within the chest.
If a patient is suffering from extreme discomfort or pain in their chest, along with other signs such as shortness of breath and discomfort in other parts of their body, they should seek medical attention right away and call 9-1-1, as they are more than likely experiencing a heart attack. If at any time a patient experiences chest pain, they should seek medical attention to have their heart examined and to rule out heart failure, a heart attack, or any other heart conditions.
Causes & Different Types Of Conditions
While cardiovascular disease can refer to a multitude of heart or blood vessel issues, heart problems are often caused by damage to the heart or blood vessels from atherosclerosis, a buildup of fatty plaques within the arteries. Plaque buildup thickens and stiffens the artery walls, which can cause a reduction in blood flow through the arteries to other organs and tissues within the body. Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of cardiovascular disease, and it can be caused by an unhealthy diet, a lack of exercise, obesity, and smoking.
Heart disease and other heart-related conditions are also closely linked to genetics, but also an individual’s surrounding environment and lifestyle choices. Some heart-related conditions an individual can develop include heart disease, heart failure, an aneurysm, peripheral artery disease, heart arrhythmia, sudden cardiac arrest, heart attack, stroke, valvular heart disease, heart infection, cardiomyopathy, and congenital heart defects.
As previously mentioned, genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices all play a significant part in determining if an individual will develop heart-related issues. Although a patient cannot change their genetic disposition for heart-related problems, such as heart disease or congenital heart defects, they can do everything within their power to make healthy lifestyle choices that will lead them to optimal health. Some lifestyle habits an individual can make to improve their chances for not developing certain types of heart conditions include to quit smoking and controlling and managing other health issues such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Exercising for a minimum of thirty minutes a day at least five days a week, eating a diet that is low in salt and saturated fat, maintaining a healthy weight, practicing good hygiene, and reducing and managing stress are also incredibly helpful for reducing a patient’s risk.