In the same manner that a vehicle will give an early sign of trouble in the engine or other mechanical parts, the human body also gives out clues that all is not well with it. The heart which is one most vital parts of the body gives early signs of trouble which most people fail to recognise.
The heart is a muscular organ about the size of a fist, which is located just behind and slightly to the left of the breastbone. The heart pumps blood to all parts of the body to provide it with the oxygen and nutrients in needs to function, through the network of arteries and veins called the cardiovascular system.
The heart has four main functions, which are: it pumps oxygenated blood to all parts of the body including itself; transports hormones and other vital substances to different parts of the body; receives deoxygenated blood which it pumps to the lungs for oxygenation just as it carries metabolic waste products from the body; and lastly, it helps to maintain blood pressure. Below, are the ways the heart can give early warning that something is wrong with it.
When snoring is broken up by pauses in breathing, the brain may not be getting enough oxygen. It will send signals to the blood vessels and theheart to work harder to keep blood flow going. This raises the risk for high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, strokes, and heart failure. Fortunately, sleep apnea is treatable medical condition.
Extremely high level of triglycerides can make skin break out in a rash around the knuckles of the fingers and toes and on the buttocks bottom. A lot of these fats in your blood may play a role in hardening your arteries, and high numbers are often related to other conditions that put you at risk for heart disease and strokes, too.
Poor grip strength
The strength of your hand may tell you something about the strength of your heart. Research suggests the ability to squeeze something well may be associated with a lower risk of heart disease. If it’s hard for you to grasp an object, odds are higher that you have or could develop problems. (But improving your grip strength alone won’t necessarily make your heart healthier.)
Dark spot under nails
If you haven’t hit or hurt your finger or toe recently, but notice little dots of blood trapped under your nail, that could point to an infection in the lining of the heart or valves, called endocarditis. You can also get these blood specks when you have diabetes, and people with that condition are two to four times more likely to have heart disease and strokes.
Light-headedness is often a direct result of something wrong with your heart because it isn’t pumping enough blood to your brain. Dizziness could be a symptom of an abnormal rhythm, called an arrhythmia. Heart failure, meaning the weakening of the muscle, can also make you unsteady. Feeling woozy is one of the many lesser-known symptoms of a heart attack, too.
Some troubles in the bedroom could mean you have heart disease and a greater risk for a heart attack or stroke. Men with erectile dysfunction may have circulation problems related to high blood pressure or narrow arteries from cholesterol buildup. These blood-flow problems can also lessen a woman’s libido and ability to enjoy sex.
Skin colour changes
Pale fingers and toes could be from poor circulation of oxygen-rich blood, often due to a heart defect you were born with or narrowed or blocked blood vessels. A lacy, mottled, purple pattern shows up when bits of built-up cholesterol plaques break off, then get stuck in small blood vessels.
You might get bloody splotches just under the skin on the inside of your hands and the soles of your feet when you have endocarditis.
Experts don’t totally understand the link between gum disease and heart disease. But studies suggest that bleeding, swollen, or tender gums may lead to trouble with your heart. One theory is that bacteria from the gums get into the bloodstream and set off inflammation in the heart. Having gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss, may also raise your chances of a stroke.
Dark, velvety skin patches
You may find these thick spots, called acanthosis nigricans, in skin folds and creases such as the neck, armpits, and groin when the body has trouble using the hormone insulin. The patches could have skin tags, too. If you aren’t being treated for insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, or type 2 diabetes, see your doctor for help controlling your blood sugar and protecting your heart.
Feeling short of breath can be a symptom of heart failure, an abnormal heart rhythm, or a heart attack. Tell your doctor if you struggle to catch your breath after doing things that used to be easy for you, or if it’s hard to breathe while lying down. If you have chest pain, then that is a clear emergency that requires you be taken to a hospital immediately.
Swelling in lower legs
Swelling of the feet happens when you stand or sit for a long time, and it’s also common during pregnancy. Fluid build-up can also stem from heart failure and poor circulation in your legs. Swollen legs could be from a clot that’s blocking the return of blood from your lower limbs to your heart. If swelling comes up suddenly, please go to see your doctor immediately.
Don’t always assume that fatigue may be due to poor sleep. Heart failure can leave you tired and drained, because the muscle no longer pumps well enough to meet your body’s needs. Watch for other symptoms, such as coughing and swelling, too, since feeling wiped out and weak can be a warning sign of many different conditions, including anaemia, cancer, or even depression.
• Adapted from webmd.com with additional materials