Watch Out for These Warning Signs of Heart Disease, Say Experts
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, causing about 1 in 4 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most common type of heart disease in the United States is coronary artery disease (CAD), which impacts blood flow to the heart and can result in a heart attack. There are some warning signs of heart disease you need to look out for, according to Satjit Bhusri, MD, founder of Upper East Side Cardiology. Read on to find out what they are—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Signs Your Illness is Actually Coronavirus in Disguise.
You Notice Chest Discomfort
Dr. Bhusri maintains that chest discomfort is the most common sign of heart danger. "If you have a blocked artery or are having a heart attack, you may feel pain, tightness, or pressure in your chest," he explains, adding that the feeling usually lasts longer than a few minutes. "It may happen when you're at rest or when you're doing something physical." If the symptoms are more severe and don't go away after a few minutes, he urges you to call 911. "Also, keep in mind you can have heart problems—even a heart attack— without chest pain. That's particularly common among women."
You Experience Nausea, Indigestion, Heartburn, or Stomach Pain
Some people experience symptoms like nausea, indigestion, heartburn, or stomach pain during a heart attack. "Women are more likely to report this type of symptom than men are," Dr. Bhusri points out. "Obviously, you can have an upset stomach for many reasons that have nothing to do with your heart. But you need to be aware that it can also happen during a heart attack." If you feel this way and you're at risk for heart problems, he suggests contacting a doctor.
You Experience Pain that Spreads to the Arm
Another classic heart attack symptom? "Pain that radiates down the left side of the body," says Dr. Bhusri.
You Feel Dizzy or Lightheaded
A lot of things can make you lose your balance or feel faint for a moment. Maybe you didn't have enough to eat or drink, or you stood up too fast. "But if you suddenly feel unsteady and you also have chest discomfort or shortness of breath, call a doctor right away," Dr. Bhusri advises.
You Feel Pain in Your Throat or Jaw
By itself, throat or jaw pain probably isn't heart related. More likely, it's caused by a muscular issue, a cold, or a sinus problem. But if you have pain or pressure in the center of your chest that spreads up into your throat or jaw, it could be a sign of a heart attack, Dr. Bhusri suggests. "Call 911 and seek medical attention to make sure everything is alright."
You Get Exhausted Easily
If you suddenly feel fatigued or winded after doing something you had no problem doing in the past—like climbing the stairs or carrying groceries from the car—make an appointment with your doctor right away. "Extreme exhaustion or unexplained weakness, sometimes for days at a time, can be a symptom of heart disease, especially for women," Dr. Bhusri warns.
You Suddenly Start Snoring
It's normal to snore a little while you snooze. "But unusually loud snoring that sounds like a gasping or choking can be a sign of sleep apnea," says Dr. Bhusri. "That's when you stop breathing for brief moments several times at night while you are still sleeping. This puts extra stress on your heart."
You Get a Cough That Won't Quit
In most cases, a cough isn't a sign of heart trouble. "But if you have heart disease or know you're at risk, pay special attention to the possibility," advises Dr. Bhusri. "If you have a long-lasting cough that produces a white or pink mucus, it could be a sign of heart failure. This happens when the heart can't keep up with the body's demands, causing blood to leak back into the lungs."
Your Legs, Feet, and Ankles Are Swollen
Swollen legs, feet, and ankles could be a sign that your heart doesn't pump blood as effectively as it should. "When the heart can't pump fast enough, blood backs up in the veins," explains Dr. Bhusri. "Heart failure can also make it harder for the kidneys to remove extra water and sodium from the body."
You Notice an Irregular Heart Beat
It's normal for your heart to race when you are nervous or excited or to skip or add a beat once in a while. But if you feel like your heart is beating out of time for more than just a few seconds, or if it happens often, tell your doctor, suggests Dr. Bhusri. "It could signal a condition called atrial fibrillation that needs treatment," he says. Also, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.