Six subtle signs that you could be suffering from a heart problem
Sign #1: You’re constantly exhausted
This isn’t just a lack of sleep
tired; it’s extreme fatigue
. Kind of like how you feel when you get the flu – except this doesn’t go away.
While you may blow this off as nothing, in reality it could be a sign of a weak heart. Dr Suzanne Steinbaum explains that you feel this way due to a lack of oxygen. “The heart is struggling and straining to deliver the oxygen to your body,” she says. That said, plenty of people feel tired for lots of reasons. If this is your only symptom, chat to your doctor, but don’t jump to the “heart trouble” conclusion just yet.
Sign #2: Your feet swell often
Feet swelling can occur for different reasons. Pregnancy, varicose veins and travel to name a few. However, it’s also a sign of heart failure.
“Swelling can also occur when the heart valve doesn’t close normally,” Professor Michael Miller explains. “Some medications for blood pressure
could also cause swelling,” he adds.
Heart-related foot swelling is usually accompanied by other symptoms like shortness of breath and/or fatigue
. If you recently developed foot swelling, see your doctor to determine the cause and treat it.
Sign #3: You suffer intense pain when you walk
If your hip and leg muscles cramp when you walk or climb and feel better when you rest, don’t shrug it off as a lack of regular exercise. This could be a sign of peripheral aterial disease (PAD).
PAD is a build-up of fatty plaque in your leg arteries linked to heart disease
. If you have PAD, there’s a 50% chance you have a blockage in one of your heart arteries, warns Miller.
The good news? PAD is a very treatable condition.
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Sign #4: You’re always feeling light-headed
Again, this is one of those symptoms that can have many non-heart related causes. If you’ve ever been to a gym, you’ve probably seen warning signs to stop walking, running or cycling if you feel dizzy or light-headed. This is because dehydration also causes this feeling. But if you’re feeling light-headed on a regular basis, have a chat with your doctor to see if medication side effects, ear problems, anaemia or heart problems are to blame. Miller explains that artery blockage sometimes cause this spinning state. As a result, this lessens your blood pressure
Sign #5: You’re fit, but you still feel short of breath
Despite your twice-weekly cycling classes, you feel winded climbing a staircase. What gives?
Well, it could be asthma, anaemia, an infection or a heart valve problem.
“Fluid build-up affecting the left side of the heart can produce wheezing that simulates bronchial asthma,” Miller says. “Once the valve is fixed, fluid no longer builds up in the lungs and the patient breathes easier.” Since exercise can strengthen your heart, get this symptom checked so it doesn’t interfere with your ability to work out comfortably.
Sign #6: You’re experiencing waves of depression
is a very common problem in this world. It affects millions each year. Depression
’s probably not a sign you have heart trouble, but mental wellbeing in linked to physical wellbeing in the end.
Steinbaum explains that new studies suggest that people who are depressed have greater risk of heart trouble. “People who have multiple risk factors for heart disease
or who do have heart disease have a tendency to be depressed,” she clarifies.
If you suffer from any of these symptoms, don’t ignore them. Rather get checked over by your doctor and avoid potential heart problems or stroke.