Heart disease is a significant problem, especially in America. In fact, in America, heart disease is the number one cause of death, according to the CDC. From what we eat to how we move, there are a number of things that contribute to heart disease, and a failure to manage one’s lifestyle can cause complications that may prove fatal. However, the signs and symptoms of heart conditions are not always obvious. While certain signs, like chest pains, for example, may tip you off to a problem with the heart, pay attention to any other potential signals that your body provides.
12. Bad Breath
Bad breath can be a sign of more than dry mouth or snoring at night. While sleep apnea is also a serious condition that should be addressed., bad breath may also be an indication of heart trouble. This is due to the relationship between inflammation and illness. Inflammation, while it is part of the body’s response to infection, can lead to other illnesses surfacing within the body. Where does bad breath come in? Well, if the bad breath is a symptom of gum disease, which causes inflammation, you could be putting yourself at an increased risk for heart trouble.
Everyone gets headaches sometimes. While you might think of migraines as just severe headaches, they may be a sign of serious trouble. Normally, a very small percentage of the population, just over 10 percent, suffers from migraines. However, migraines are much more prevalent among those who suffer from heart-related troubles. The connection isn’t quite clear yet, but there are theories to explain this connection between head and heart; for one, it’s thought that imbalances in the body’s nervous system may contribute. In any case, if you suffer from frequent migraines, don’t just write them off; get yourself checked out.
Yawning is something that isn’t completely understood, but there are some theories to the purpose of a yawn, and what they might mean for the body’s health. A recent study suggests that yawns play a role in oxygenation of the blood and cooling of the brain, two things which improve bodily efficiency. If you find yourself yawning during exercise, perhaps this explains it, as exercise heats the body and the muscles need more oxygen during this time. However, excessive yawning during exercise might suggest problems with the circulatory system cooling the body and bringing oxygen to where it is needed most.
We’ve all been there: you’ve been sitting for a while, then suddenly stand up, and you’re dizzy and lightheaded. This phenomenon is called orthostatic hypotension. While it only lasts for the few moments it takes your body to acclimatize, for some people, it may persist for much longer. This can be indicative of heart trouble, particularly for those below 50. It suggests issues with blood flow, and according to researchers, those who experience longer periods of orthostatic hypotension are more likely to suffer heart failure at some point. Certain exercises help remedy this problem, but seeing a doctor is important.
8. Shortness of Breath
Speaking of oxygenation and lightheadedness, if you find yourself experiences shortness of breath when you exercise and even when you moderately exert yourself outside of workouts, you might have a problem. This is especially the case if you are otherwise fit. You might also find yourself subdued by bouts of coughing. Shortness of breath has a number of causes, and sometimes trouble with heart valves may be the culprit. If your shortness of breath persists without other potential causes, such as various respiratory infections, or bad habits like smoking, it could be a matter of heart, rather than lung, trouble.Related: 7 Ways to Prevent the Mother of All Heart Attacks
Fatigue is one of those symptoms easily attributed to other conditions. However, it is something that can arise if there is underlying trouble with the heart. This is because if the heart is having difficulty pumping oxygenated blood throughout the body (think yawning all the time), your body’s cells are going to notice, even if you don’t. In extreme cases, this may manifest as a relentless exhaustion, where you have no energy and struggle to stay awake or complete even simple tasks. If you find yourself feeling tired even after a good night’s rest, consider getting your heart checked.
6. Earlobe Wrinkles
While you probably won’t go looking at your ears for the first signs of heart trouble, there may be some merit to checking out your earlobes. A recent study has found a correlation between diagonal earlobe wrinkles and an increased incidence of hypertension and diabetes. The crease in question varies from nearly horizontal to a diagonal and in some cases, rather prominently separates the earlobe from the rest of the ear. It sounds far-fetched, but consider it in conjunction with other, more prominent signs of heart disease, and the fact that a few studies have produced such results.
5. Ring Finger Length
While checking out your ears, also be sure to take a look at your hands. The length of your ring finger compared to your index finger may be another important clue regarding heart disease. According to various studies from the University of Liverpool, those who have ring fingers that are shorter than their index fingers have a greatly increased risk of developing heart disease, especially when they reach 40 years of age. Longer ring fingers have been linked to a greater level of fetal testosterone exposure, which itself has been linked to better heart health among men.
4. Clear Skin During Teenage Years
Ironically, if you managed to escape the ridicule that was acne during high school, you may be worse off now. The prevalence of acne during those years decreases the risk of coronary heart disease by about one-third. Much like the previous point, hormone levels play a role in things that otherwise seem unconnected. Just as testosterone strengthens the body in the womb, reducing the risk of heart disease later on, the same is true during teenage years, another time when testosterone levels surge. This second “booster shot” of testosterone may play a role in reducing heart disease risk.
3. Swollen Feet
It’s not just something that comes with pregnancy; swollen feet may be a symptom of heart troubles as well. Generally, the feet swell because blood is pooling in the veins, rather than smoothly flowing back to the heart, which may indicate a problem with the heart valves opening and closing properly. This is another sign that you will want to consider, especially in conjunction with certain other symptoms, such as shortness of breath. Of course, if you’re already taking medications for heart trouble or diabetes, these may cause foot swelling, but at that point, you’re already in the know.Related: 13 Home Remedies for Varicose Veins That Really Work
2. Varicose Veins
Speaking of blood pooling, varicose veins are another indicator of this. These unsightly, prominent veins can sometimes form in the legs, usually starting between early adulthood and middle age. They generally indicate when blood is collecting in places it shouldn’t. Often, they are harmless; usually, compression stockings are enough to alleviate them, and exercise can help as well. In some rare cases, patients may elect to undergo surgery, but this generally isn’t necessary. However, in some cases, varicose veins can cause pain and discomfort to a person, and sometimes they are indicative of an underlying problem within the circulatory system.
1. Upset Stomach
If you’ve ever investigated heartburn before, you’ve probably learned that it rarely, if ever, has anything to do with your heart, contrary to the name. However, digestive issues in the stomach, such as nausea and indigestion, could be related to heart trouble. This is especially true if the discomfort is accompanied by bouts of sweating. If you’ve eaten something out of the ordinary or at an unusual time, it may just be a matter of an upset stomach, but if you suffer from nausea despite eating foods that haven’t caused a problem before, it’s good to get checked out.
All in all, there are a lot of things that may tip you off to heart disease. Keep in mind, these signals are not guaranteed indicators that you have heart disease, but their presence may indicate an increased risk of heart disease. As such, it’s important to make healthy decisions moving forward to reduce that risk, especially if there are other, inevitable factors, such as family history. Diet (avoid bad cholesterol, excess salt, and fat) and exercise (aim for half an hour each day) can help, particularly if you are overweight, as obesity is also a contributing factor.Related: 13 Natural Ways to Prevent Heartburn