Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, yet many people are still unaware of the early warning signs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one person dies every 34 seconds in the United States from heart disease. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the early signs and symptoms of heart disease, so you can seek treatment before it’s too late.
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Early signs of heart disease
1. Chest pain or discomfort that’s not related to physical activity
This is one of the most common signs of heart disease, yet many people still ignore it, thinking it’s indigestion or a pulled muscle. If you experience chest pain that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back, you should see a doctor immediately.
2. Shortness of breath
This is another common sign of heart disease, particularly in women. If you find yourself short of breath more often than usual or wake up at night gasping for air, make an appointment with your doctor.
3. Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body
Heart disease doesn’t just affect your chest; it can also cause pain or discomfort in your arms, neck, jaw, or stomach. If you experience any unexplained pain or discomfort in these areas, be sure to see your doctor right away.
4. Irregular heartbeat
An irregular heartbeat (also called arrhythmia) can feel like fluttering in your chest or like your heart is racing or pounding hard (called palpitations).
These symptoms can sometimes be normal if they happen every once in a while and don’t last long — but if they’re frequent or prolonged, they could signal an underlying problem with your heart rhythm.
5. Swelling in the extremities
If you notice that your hands, feet, ankles, or legs are swollen more often than usual, it could be a sign of heart disease.
This is because your heart isn’t pumping blood as efficiently as it should be, which causes fluid to back up in your extremities. If you notice any swelling, make sure to mention it to your doctor during your next visit.
Another common symptom of heart disease is fatigue. This can make even simple tasks seem impossible to accomplish.
Fatigue is often caused by an insufficient flow of blood to the muscles due to blockages in the arteries. If you’re frequently feeling tired for no reason, it’s worth seeing a doctor to get checked out.
Similar to fatigue, dizziness can be a sign that your heart isn’t getting enough oxygen-rich blood flow throughout your body.
If you frequently feel lightheaded or unsteady on your feet, see your doctor so they can determine if any underlying cardiovascular issues are causing these symptoms
Many people associate nausea with gastrointestinal problems, but it can also be a sign of something more serious like a heart attack—particularly in women experiencing chest pain along with nausea and vomiting.
If you experience these symptoms, call 911 right away, as they could be life-threatening.
In most cases, sweating with heart disease is accompanied by other symptoms, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, or nausea.
The bottom line
While these are all potential early warning signs of heart disease, only a certified physician can give you a definite diagnosis. Pay attention to your body, and if you experience any unexplained changes that last for extended periods, visit your doctor right away So they can give you a thorough examination and order any necessary tests.
Remember, Knowledge is power when it comes to combating heart disease.
Further Reading: 7 Signs Your Heart Health is At Risk