If You Have One Of These 6 Symptoms, You Might Have Early Heart Disease.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a classification of disease that affects the heart or blood vessels. It is the leading cause of death globally, with an estimated 17.9 million people dying from it each year. In the United States alone, almost 660,000 people die from heart disease annually. Astonishingly, this breaks down to one person every 36 seconds. The most common type of CVD is coronary heart disease (CAD), accounting for over 360,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2019. (1, 2)
What Are Risk Factors For Heart Disease, Heart Attacks, And Heart Failure?
The primary cause of heart disease is a buildup of fatty plaques in the blood vessels connected to the heart. Also known as a hardening or narrowing of the arteries, several risk factors may lead to the condition, most commonly smoking, high blood pressure, and high blood cholesterol. (3)
Other common risk factors include:
- Diabetes: Over time, high blood sugar can harm blood vessels and nerves that control your heart. Diabetes is also linked to other conditions such as cholesterol and high blood pressure, increasing risks for heart diseases. (4)
- Carrying excess weight: Being overweight requires additional blood to carry nutrients and oxygen around the body, leading to high blood pressure. Fatty material can also build up in the blood vessels resulting in an increased likelihood of heart attack or stroke. (5)
- Poor diet: A diet high in saturated and trans fats advances the possibility of heart disease. (6)
- Excess sodium (salt) intake: This can increase blood pressure by forcing blood against the artery walls at a higher rate than usual, causing damage to blood vessels. (7)
- Lack of exercise: A sedentary lifestyle can increase your chances of cardiovascular disease. Physical activity can help control blood pressure, blood glucose levels, burn calories, and assist in weight management. (8)
- Excessive alcohol intake: Drinking too much alcohol is harmful to the body and can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure, or stroke. (9)
- Age: Adults over the age of 65 have an increased chance of suffering from heart disease as the heart and blood vessels deteriorate with age. (10)
Our Physician Checklist can help reduce and manage several aspects surrounding heart disease, helping you towards a healthier lifestyle.
Six Of The Often Unknown Early Symptoms Of Cardiovascular Disease?
While lifestyle is the most common element leading to heart disease, other issues such as gender or hereditary may also factor as potential causes.
Sometimes a heart attack can be sudden and unexpected. However, often there are warning signs that we should look for that tell us we may have early symptoms of heart disease.
Some of these symptoms are surprising, and often silent, but have links to cardiovascular disease just the same:
- Going bald: According to a study by Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, men with extensive crown baldness are at a higher risk of developing heart disease compared to men with a receding hairline who have no increased risk. The study also found that men with extensive pattern baldness and high cholesterol are three times more likely to develop heart disease. compared to those with high cholesterol and no hair loss. (11)
- Gray hair: Researchers have discovered that while graying hair is a normal aging process, connections link it to coronary heart disease. (12)
- Diagonal earlobe crease: Although researchers have yet to discover why an earlobe crease may have a link to coronary disease, several studies have shown an association between the existence of an earlobe crease and heart problems. (13)
- Erectile dysfunction: There are many causes of erectile dysfunction. These include lifestyle issues, family history, or psychological difficulties. An early sign of heart disease may also be a risk factor due to a condition called endothelial dysfunction, where blood vessels cannot open properly. One of the first areas of the body that endothelial dysfunction affects is the penis, often suggesting underlying heart problems. (14)
- Calf pain: Arteries in the legs can become blocked before coronary heart disease is detected. The condition is more prevalent in smokers and is an early indicator that sufferers are at a greater risk of a heart attack or stroke. (15)
- Night sweats and hot flashes: Researchers at the University of Queensland, Australia, have found that women who have post-menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats may be more at risk of cardiovascular disease. (16)
- Chest pain
- Stomach pain/indigestion
- Pain in the legs, arms, jaw, or back
- Swollen ankles
- Irregular heartbeat
If symptoms worsen, particularly chest pains, shortness of breath, or fainting, contact your doctor or medical practitioner as soon as possible.
Treatments And Ways To Prevent Heart Disease
Various drugs and medications are prescribed to patients to treat heart disease. However, prevention is always a better option, and making lifestyle changes can protect heart health in many cases. Here are some preventative measures that every person can take to improve their health and wellbeing. These measures can not only lower the risk of cardiovascular disease but can improve overall health from many other diseases and conditions.
- Stopping smoking: Smoking is one of the leading causes of heart disease. There are no benefits to smoking a cigarette, and inhaling secondhand smoke, even briefly, can cause heart problems. People exposed to secondhand smoke are up to 30% more likely to develop heart disease. It’s a great idea to quit, for everyone’s sake. (17)
- Eating a healthy diet: Foods rich in nutrients and minerals can substantially reduce the risk of heart disease. (18)
- Exercise more: Staying active can help lower blood pressure and maintain an optimal weight through calorie loss. (19)
- Weight management: Eating fewer foods high in saturated fats and switching to a healthier diet such as the Mediterranean diet can help prevent obesity, a common symptom of heart disease. (20)
- Alcohol reduction: Keeping within the safe weekly recommendation for alcohol consumption may help to prevent high blood pressure.
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If you think you may be having a heart attack, call 911 or seek emergency medical help immediately.