5 Heart Disease Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

Dr Handicap - chest pain

Your heart is the most important organ in your body. While it’s obviously crucial to keep all organs ticking over in good health, if there’s a problem with your heart, the consequences can be fatal – and rapidly so, in some cases. Our hearts keep blood pumping around our body, supplying the rest of our organs with the energy they need to function. It’s made of a muscle that doesn’t tire; over an average lifetime, the human heart will pump over three billion times. This is an awesome work rate for the little biological engine that’s about the size of a closed fist. So it’s important to keep your heart as healthy as you possibly can – and keep an eye out for any heart disease symptoms.

As the heart’s sole function is to pump blood, it can only really have one sole disruption: a cessation of movement, also known as cardiac arrest, or a heart attack. Heart attacks can be caused by a number of different factors, mostly related to lifestyle choices and diet. However, the good news is that heart attacks rarely come out of nowhere, and are usually preceded by a number of different symptoms and signs that will let you know you’re potentially suffering from heart disease. Knowing these warning signs can help you take action to avoid an increase of symptoms that can ultimately result in a fatal heart attack.

1. Shortness of Breath During Routine Activities

If you find yourself becoming out of breath during tasks or activities that used to be simple, then it could be a sign that your heart isn’t functioning as well as it once was. A classic example is climbing a flight of stairs. While it’s something many of us do on a day-to-day basis, the act of climbing stairs is actually quite an exertion for the body, as we’re essentially lunging in an upward motion a number of times over. For that reason, it can be a good indicator of early heart disease symptoms. If you find yourself gasping for breath after taking a flight of stairs, it’s time to get checked out.

2. Chest Pain and Pressure

Also known as angina, this specific type of chest pain is caused by a reduced flow of blood from the heart. When talking about heart disease symptoms, it’s important to differentiate between different types of chest pain, which can come in a variety of forms and are not always to do with the heart. Pain in the chest that is specifically in one location, or comes and goes sharply, is generally not considered to be heart-related. Pain that feels like a tightness or pressure in the chest and is present after physical exertion is much more concerning, and can be a major warning sign for heart disease.

3. Heart Palpitations

Palpitations can come in a variety of forms, and are not always dangerous; some are completely benign. However, it is worth getting any discrepancy in heartbeat pattern checked out with your physician, as they can be a danger sign that something’s not quite right. Everyone’s heart skips a beat now and then, but rapid beating that comes on for no particular reason or a fluttering feeling in your chest deserve to be checked out. They might turn out to be due to something like anxiety, but it’s always better to be safe, especially if they’re combined with any other heart disease symptoms.

4. Swelling in the Ankles or Weight Gain

When the heart can’t muster enough power to pump blood back up from the body’s extremities, it can sometimes pool and cause swelling. This is commonly seen in a person’s ankles. Weight gain is another factor of this, although it is worth noting that the reverse is true too: being overweight or obese can exacerbate heart disease symptoms, or in some cases bring them on. It’s worth noting that if you’re morbidly obese or have underlying heart issues, you might be entitled to a disabled parking permit or handicap parking spot. These can really help obese or disabled people get around their day-to-day lives, when finding a parking space near where they need to be proves a real challenge.

5. Dizziness or Fainting

Most people are aware that sudden fainting spells aren’t a good sign for their general health, but not everybody knows that these can be specifically be a sign of heart disease. The cause, as it relates to the heart, is insufficient blood flow to the brain, which causes the sudden short-circuit or blackout we call fainting. It’s a common sign of low blood pressure, and can be indicative of a serious problem with the heart. It can also indicate other health problems of varying degrees of severity, so it’s best to get this particular symptom checked out immediately with your primary care physician.

In the digital age, a lot of these heart disease symptoms can be checked out via telemedicine – a form of consultation with your doctor that can take place from the comfort of your home over digital platforms like computers and iPads. These types of clinic visits are becoming more and more routine for health care providers all over the U.S. If you’re worried about any of the above symptoms, but don’t have the time or accessibility to go to the doctors, telemedicine can help you get the consultation you need without putting too much pressure on you.