9 Signs You May Have Heart Trouble

Be wise. Consult your doctor if you suspect any problems with your heart.
Be wise. Consult your doctor if you suspect any problems with your heart. (iStock photo)

Even with knowledge and all of these advancements, Atherosclerosis continues to be the No. 1 silent killer in the United States. Atherosclerosis is a constricting or clogging of the arteries, preventing them from carrying vital nutrients through the body. It can lead to both heart attack and stroke.

Not all of the symptoms of a heart attack are the same, especially between men and women. It some cases the signs may be painfully obvious, but in others they may be much more subtle.

The information that follows are indicators that something may be wrong with your heart. They could also be caused by something entirely different. There are two very important steps that you should take. One is to not panic and the second is speak with your personal physician about any of the signs that you may be suffering from. Remember that only a medical professional can assess your situation. Never rely on Google for a serious diagnosis.

1. Lethargy and fatigue. Simple fatigue from a day of overworking or not receiving adequate sleep is perfectly normal. Severe fatigue on a regular basis which simply does not go away after a good night's rest could be a sign that something is amiss with your heart. This is the type of tiredness you feel when you are coming down with the flu.

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Director of Women's Heart Health at the Heart and Vascular Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City Suzanne Steinbaum, urges people, especially women, not to dismiss this ongoing fatigue. It could be a warning sign that something is wrong with your heart.

The reason for the extreme fatigue in these cases is that your heart is in distress from tying to transport vital oxygen for your body through constricted or clogged arteries. The reasons that this causes severe lethargy and extreme fatigue is twofold. First, your heart is tired from working overtime and your body is still not receiving the proper oxygen levels it requires for optimal functioning.

2. Peripheral edema. Peripheral edema is when extremities of the body swell such as ankles and feet. There are numerous non-life-threatening reasons that these areas swell such as varicose veins and pregnancy. But it may also be something much more serious such as poor circulation and/or congestive heart failure. This can cause a chronic condition in which your heart is not able to pump blood efficiently.

A professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of the Maryland School of Medicine states that peripheral edema of the feet can also be a sign that one or more valves in your heart is unable to close properly. This swelling can also be the result of taking certain types of medication such as those for diabetes and/or hypertension. If swelling does correlate with heart issues, in most cases, there will be other indications as well. It may be accompanied by extreme fatigue and/or shortness of breath. It is best to consult your medical professional to determine exactly what is causing the edema.

3. Excruciating pain while walking. If the muscles of your legs and hips may cramp severely when you walk, but then relax upon resting. Do not automatically dismiss this sign as a curse of growing older. This could be a symptom of PAD or peripheral arterial disease. This is a result of fatty plaque accumulating in your arteries and clogging them, which has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Both PAD and related cardiovascular disease are generally completely treatable as long as you listen to the early warning signs and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

4. Feeling faint or light headed. There are many different causes of dizziness which are in no way related to heart disease. Fitness gyms post signs warning individuals that they should stop exercising, if they become faint or light headed. You could simply be dehydrated or you rose from a sitting or lying too quickly. If it is reoccurring, it is important to consult a physician to determine whether it is something such as a side effect of a medication that you are currently taking or if it is related to cardiovascular disease. Dizziness may also be a warning from your heart that your blood pressure is dropping too fast or frequently. This may be the result of a defective heart valve or clogged arteries.

5. Shortness of breath. If you have been fit pretty much all of your life, but suddenly become short of breath when performing those same routine exercises, it could be the result of an infection, anemia or asthma. It could be something much more serious, especially if you began to feel this way after simply climbing stairs and it is to the degree that it makes you cough. The heart may be having trouble pumping blood and/or your heart valves may be injured.

A defective heart valve can cause fluid to accumulate that may cause wheezing and coughing that are often mistaken for bronchial asthma. Once the valve is repaired or replaced it eliminates fluid from the lungs and allows the patient to breathe much easier. Be sure that you consult your doctor about this warning sign.

6. Depression. Depression is extremely prevalent throughout the entire world. More than 19 million people are affected every year in the United States alone. While depression is not generally an actual direct symptom of cardiovascular disease, studies show that it can increase the risk of heart disease. Those who suffer from other symptoms of cardiovascular disease or are hereditarily at risk for it are more likely to suffer from depression as well. Physical and mental health are closely related and play an integral part in your overall well-being. It is essential that you speak with a medical professional immediately, if you are suffering from depression whether you believe it is related to heart disease or not.

7. Frequent migraines. There are all sorts of reason that you may get a headache. It could be the result of stress, allergies or the beginning of a cold. Frequent migraines are an indicator of possible cardiovascular disease. Approximately 12 percent of the world's population suffers from migraine headaches. That figure dramatically increases to 40 percent in those diagnosed with heart disease. Numerous studies are being conducted because the exact connection remains unclear. One common theory is that it is the result of an imbalance of the autonomic nervous system and heart defects. This is because a connection has been made between these abnormalities and individuals suffering from migraines accompanied by auras.

8. Hearing your heartbeat as you fall asleep. Some individuals are able to hear their defective heart valve as they fall asleep. Some of them become adjusted to the sound and/or simply change the positions that they sleep in. It is important not to ignore this symptom and to speak with your doctor about it to determine the cause. There are several reasons why your heart may pound loud enough for you to hear. Certain medications, anemia, dehydration and low blood sugar or blood pressure are all possible causes.

9. Anxiety accompanied by nausea and sweating. Sudden panic attacks accompanied by nausea and sweating may be caused by an anxiety disorder. This may also be an indication of cardiovascular disease. If you experience this with other serious symptoms such as pain that radiates through your shoulder, back, chest and other upper extremities, it is vital that you seek immediate medical attention. This could be a sign that you are having a heart attack. Five precious minutes could be the difference between life and death.

Don Colbert, M.D. has been board certified in Family Practice for over 25 years and practices Anti aging and Integrative medicine. He is a New York Times Bestselling author of books such as The Bible Cure Series, What Would Jesus Eat, Deadly Emotions, What You Don't Know May be Killing You, and many more with over 10 million books sold. He is the Medical Director of the Divine Health Wellness Center in Orlando, Florida where he has treated over 50,000 patients.

For the original article, visit drcolbert.com.

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