Heart disease is a prevalent and severe condition that affects millions worldwide. While many are aware of the common symptoms, such as chest pain or heart attacks, other subtle signs may go unnoticed.
Some patients remain oblivious to the silent indicators that warn of potential heart issues. Unfortunately, this lack of awareness may lead to severe complications.
Of 805,000 heart attacks, 170,000 are silent heart attacks, according to statistics from the American Heart Association. In this blog post, we’ll discuss five of the silent signs of heart disease that you should be aware of.
We will delve into each of these symptoms, including chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling, and provide tips on what to do if you experience any of them. Let’s get started!”
1. Chest pain
Chest pain is a sensation of uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain that occurs in the centre of the chest. This discomfort can last for more than a few minutes and may dissipate and then reoccur.
Typically, chest pain occurs when the heart muscle does not receive enough oxygen-rich blood, which is commonly caused by narrowed or blocked coronary arteries.
Although chest pain is a common symptom of heart disease, patients may also experience this pain in other parts of the body, such as the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, abdomen, or back. According to the American Heart Organization, this is the most common heart disease symptom in women.
Individuals at risk of heart disease are also susceptible to chest pain or angina. For example, men over 45 and women over 55 have a higher likelihood of presenting this symptom.
Some other cardiovascular disease risk factors that can help you know if you’re at risk for angina include:
- High blood pressure
- Elevated cholesterol levels
- Being overweight
- Family history of early heart disease
2. Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath, also known as dyspnea, is the feeling of not getting enough air, making it difficult to breathe and causing discomfort or distress.
In cardiovascular disease, shortness of breath can occur with or without chest pain and indicates that the heart cannot pump blood effectively. Patients often describe it as feeling like they can’t catch their breath, even when not exerting themselves, and may gasp for air or struggle to take deep breaths.
This is a sign that can easily be misunderstood with other medical conditions. However, recognizing shortness of breath as a symptom of silent heart disease will help you get the medical attention you need to prevent further complications.
Fatigue is a silent sign of heart disease that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. It is the feeling of extreme tiredness or lack of energy, even after getting enough rest. Fatigue can make it challenging to perform daily tasks and may also affect a person’s mood.
According to Harvard Medical School, fatigue can be caused by many illnesses and by medicines. But constant, new fatigue can signal heart failure.
Patients with heart disease-related fatigue often experience muscle weakness or difficulty performing physical activities that were once easy for them. If you notice new or constant fatigue, it is essential to schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine the underlying cause. This checkup may include blood tests or an electrocardiogram (ECG) to check the electrical activity of your heart.
Swelling is the accumulation of fluid in the tissues and can be caused by many factors. In heart disease, swelling in the legs, ankles, or feet may occur when the heart can’t pump fast enough, causing blood to back up in the veins. Patients often describe the feeling of swelling as if their shoes or socks are too tight, and they may experience discomfort or pain. However, the Harvard Medical School distinguishes this as swelling that leaves an indentation if you press your finger into it.
If you experience swelling as a symptom of silent heart disease, there are a few things you can do to manage it. These include elevating your feet when sitting or lying down, wearing compression stockings, and avoiding standing or sitting for prolonged periods.
5. Cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness
Penn Medicine explains that waking up in a cold sweat, feeling nauseated, and vomiting may get confused with symptoms of illnesses like simple flu, but they can also be heart attack signs.
These symptoms can indicate that your blood pressure has dropped because your heart can’t pump the way it should. They can be sudden and severe and occur at rest or during physical activity.
Cold sweat, nausea, and lightheadedness can occur with other symptoms such as chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, and a rapid heartbeat.
Patients may feel like they are going to faint, or they may faint. You can do a few things to help manage cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness as a symptom of silent heart disease. These include avoiding triggers such as stress, eating a heart-healthy diet, and exercising regularly. And, of course, scheduling a visit to your doctor.
How to prevent Heart Disease?
So, what comes next? You already know that a silent disease is a medical condition that may be present in the body but does not cause noticeable symptoms. This can be particularly concerning in the case of heart disease, as many people with heart disease are only diagnosed after experiencing a heart attack or other serious cardiovascular event.
The first step to heart disease prevention is to stay informed about heart disease signs, risk factors and family history. Also, adopting healthy lifestyle habits such as a balanced diet, no smoking and regular physical activity will benefit your heart and lower your chances of developing severe heart conditions.
But the most crucial advice is to get your heart checkup by a professional, even if you think you’re 100% healthy. At Davinci Health, we are proud to have the best cardiologists in Malta, who will provide you with the best care and guide you through the best heart disease treatments available according to your condition.
Our private clinic offers a complete range of the best cardiology services, from heart screenings to diagnostic tests and treatment. Visit our Consultant’s timetable, find a doctor and schedule your appointment.
The best time to start preventing heart disease is now!
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