There are some health problems that can seem rather obvious from the start. If you have a toothache, it’s quite likely that you have a cavity.
There are others, however, that may be a bit more subtle. Heart disease, for example, can affect your body in a number of different and unexpected ways.
Since heart disease is so common—nearly one in four deaths in the United States is attributed to heart disease—it’s important to be aware of the most common signs. It’s unpleasant to think about, but this kind of awareness might just save your life!
It goes without saying that your heart is one of the most important parts of your entire body. Yet when it comes to detecting a serious heart problem, most people only think about symptoms like chest pain and labored breathing.
Unfortunately, since heart disease is responsible for nearly 25 percent of all deaths in the United States, it’s important to be aware of the lesser-known signs, too. If you notice any of these symptoms, visit a doctor immediately. It could save your life!
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1. Swelling of the lower legs and feet: This type of swelling comes from fluid retention and is called a peripheral edema. The doctor will check for it by pressing a finger against the swollen area. This isn’t always caused by heart disease, but when it is, it’s from your heart not pumping blood properly, resulting in fluid from inside your blood vessels leaking out into the tissue.
2. Male pattern baldness: Men with a balding head have an increased risk of heart disease by 23 percent; that risk increases to 36 percent if they’ve completely lost their hair. By no means does this mean that all bald people will get heart disease, but it does mean they should be screened for it regularly.
3. Yellow skin bumps: These unsightly yellow bumps are called xanthomas, and they indicate high levels of fats in the blood. They may also appear on your body when your cholesterol levels are high, so they’re important to look out for.
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4. Gum disease: Though swollen, red gums are usually just an indication of bad dental hygiene, they are also linked to heart disease. The exact connection isn’t completely known, but it could be due to poor circulation and similar bacterias. Either way, take care of your pearly whites!
5. Weight gain: In addition to peripheral edema and buildup of fluid, you might encounter some significant weight gain if you have heart disease. If you notice an irregular weight pattern, go to the doctor as soon as you possibly can.
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6. Frequent urination: Decreased flow of blood to the kidneys is a sign of heart disease, and with it comes many more trips to the restroom. Besides the health problems that this is indicative of, it’s also quite inconvenient.
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7. Cataracts: Research indicates that people with cataracts have a higher risk of heart disease. Your heart affects, and is affected by, a great deal of your body, so it’s important to make these kinds of connections whenever necessary.
8. Nighttime coughing: A buildup of fluid in the chest has the potential to cause all sorts of problems when you’re lying flat on your back. This can lead to nighttime coughing, which, besides being unhealthy, makes it difficult to sleep.
Not every one of these warning signs means you have heart disease, but if you notice these symptoms, talk to your doctor. Your heart will thank you!
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