Heart disease is one of the biggest health concerns we face today; it is the most common cause of death for both sexes, according to the Centers for Disease Control. High-fat, high-calorie diets and sedentary lifestyles of many people are only increasing the occurrence of heart disease. In addition to taking proactive steps, like eating healthier and getting more exercise, it can be important to watch for early signs to ensure any heart ailment is treated as quickly as possible.
Coronary Artery Disease
According to the National Institutes of Health, the most common form of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart become clogged or narrowed due to plaque buildup, commonly because of a diet high in cholesterol. The most common symptom is angina, or chest pain; it often occurs during exertion or high stress and can be accompanied by shortness of breath. Any such symptoms should be reported to your doctor immediately, especially if you have a family history of heart disease and/or a diet high in fat and cholesterol.
Another type of heart condition is called arrhythmia; this occurs when the heart’s natural rhythm is interrupted. Arrhythmias can have a variety of causes ranging from natural birth defects in the formation of the heart to a gradual weakening or damaging of the heart’s valves. “Missed beats” or an unnatural rhythm often are most prominent when the heart is under stress, such as during periods of heavy exercise. Arrhythmias can also be accompanied by a dizzy or lightheaded feeling and in extreme cases can lead to a loss of consciousness.
Swelling and Fatigue
Another common sign of heart disease is swelling in the extremities, especially in the legs and feet. The body’s inability to circulate blood property can lead to swelling and reddening in lower areas, which can lead to a bloated feeling and discomfort. If this symptom is coupled with general fatigue and a feeling of being unable to exert yourself, it can be an early sign of a heart condition.
High blood pressure is another coronary warning sign that should not be ignored. Sometimes high blood pressure can cause headaches or an overall unwell feeling, but in many cases it may be elevated with no obvious symptoms. Checking your blood pressure regularly should be an important part of your health regimen, especially if you have a family history of hypertension or other heart disease.
Unfortunately, many symptoms of heart disease are nonspecific, and many different conditions can share identical symptoms. Therefore, it’s a good idea to make regular medical checkups part of your defense against coronary disease; cholesterol tests and EKGs can help identify problem areas before they become life-threatening. In many cases, early detection vastly increases your chances of curing the problem or living successfully with it. Eating right and exercising can do wonders not only your heart but for the rest of your body as well.