Early signs of heart trouble can occur in the months or years that lead up to a heart attack. You may know about the symptoms of an actual heart attack, but research has shown that there are many early signs of heart trouble that a lot of people just ignore. Just like that check engine light in the car alerts you to take some action, these symptoms can alert you to seek help and do some early intervention by getting your heart checked. Here are 7 early signs of heart trouble.
Snoring or Sleep Apnea
Snoring may be annoying to your partner, but it is actually one of the early signs of heart trouble. Any problems with sleep-related breathing can indicate a heart problem. One of the underlying causes of snoring is restricted breathing, which is linked to a higher risk for many kinds of cardiovascular disease. Sleep apnea occurs when you stop breathing while sleeping.
Sleep apnea is linked with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack. In fact, people with sleep apnea have three times the risk of having heart attack in the next five years, so it is especially important to see your doctor if you have sleep apnea.
Sexual problems are commonly early signs of heart trouble. Several studies show that erectile dysfunction (ED) and heart health are closely related. A study looked at men who were being treated for cardiovascular disease and found that two out of three of the men had suffered from ED in the years leading up to their diagnosis. An erection requires blood flow to the penis. The narrowing and hardening of the arteries restricts blood flow to the penis, and since these arteries are smaller than the ones that go to the heart, ED occurs before there are other symptoms of cardiovascular problems. If you experience ED, visit your doctor to get your heart checked.
An early sign of cardiovascular disease is swollen, sore, or bleeding gums. The poor circulation from heart disease might cause periodontal disease. Whether the body is responding to ongoing inflammation or bacteria involved in gum disease and plaque in the arteries, you should talk to your dentist and your doctor about whether your dental health could be one of the early signs of heart trouble.
Irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, feels as if your heart is pounding, beating too fast, or skipping beats. Coronary artery disease (CAD) restricts blood flow to the heart, which stresses the electrical system that regulates heartbeat. The leading cause of sudden cardiac death is CAD. Another cause of irregular heartbeat is heart failure. Your doctor may recommend getting an EKG or a stress test to find out what is causing your irregular heartbeat.
When your heart is not pumping as strongly as it should, your blood doesn’t effectively remove waste products, which can make tissues swell. If you notice that your feet, ankles, wrists, or fingers are puffy or swollen you may be retaining fluid. Also called edema, this fluid retention can indicate heart failure, CAD, or other heart problems.
Shortness of Breath
If you have shortness of breath, especially when you exercise or have stress (or the problems get worse at night), your heart may not be pumping strongly enough. You may not be able to catch your breath, or your lungs might feel compressed. This could be due to early heart disease or lung disease and is one of the early signs of heart trouble. If you feel like you cannot take a deep breath, you need to let your doctor know because this can indicate some serious conditions, including an upcoming heart attack.
Chest Pain, Feeling of Heartburn, or Shoulder Pain
Men are at a slightly higher risk of angina, which is a symptom many people mistake for something else, but it is actually one of the early signs of heart trouble. Everyone experiences angina in different ways. Some people feel a deep ache or weight on their chest. Others might experience pain or tightness in the jaw, shoulder, upper back, or neck, so they think it is muscular. Some people mistake it for heartburn when it occurs in the abdomen. With angina the problem occurs repeatedly and may be triggered by stress or exercise. It occurs when plague accumulates in the coronary arteries. This deprives the heart of blood and causes the squeezing sensation. Your doctor may prescribe medicine or tell you to rest when it occurs.
Improving Heart Health
There are steps you can take to improve your heart health. One is following a heart-healthy diet. The Mediterranean diet benefits are good for your heart. The Prostate Diet incorporates the Mediterranean diet and other lifestyle choices that can improve your overall health. In fact, eating heart healthy food can help men who also have prostate cancer live longer. Talk to your doctor about what exercises are safe for you to do so you can exercise regularly and try to maintain a healthy weight. Keep an eye on your cholesterol by eating cholesterol lowering foods, and monitor your blood pressure. Also, it is important to manage your stress levels and maintain a healthy emotional state to protect your heart. If you notice any of the above early signs of heart trouble, make sure you mention them to your health provider, because early intervention is key to preventing a heart attack.