6 unusual signs that your heart may be unhealthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. This means every year about 1 million lives are lost.

The heart and arteries comprise one of our bodies’ largest organ systems.

When they cannot work normally, symptoms can appear in unrelated parts of the body.

In a recent paper, scientists from Texas A&M Health Science Center suggest that several unusual signs could mean your heart is unhealthy.

You experience pain in the shoulders or neck

Sometimes, a heart attack can happen without causing chest pain. But you may experience a very uncomfortable sensation, achiness, pain, or pressure in the neck, jaw, and shoulders.

This could mean heart pain or a heart attack. You should check with your doctor.

You have heartburn or indigestion

Many reasons can cause heartburn or indigestion, but sometimes they mean a sign of heart pain or a heart attack.

You should pay more attention if that happening with nausea, sweating, shortness of breath, or lightheadedness.

Researchers say that sometimes people come to the emergency room after chewing on antacids for hours before they know the pain is something more serious.

You experience snoring or sleep apnea

Snoring is a common sign of sleep apnea. Morning sleepiness after a full night’s sleep is a big sign too.

Sleep apnea is linked to many physiological changes that increase the risk of both heart attack and stroke.

For example, you may experience an irregular, often rapid heart rate that causes poor blood flow (atrial fibrillation).

That is why diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea can help lower heart disease risks.

You have sore, swollen or bleeding gums

Oral health is very important to your heart health.

Unhealthy gums can be a symptom of periodontitis (a serious gum infection)—and it can lead to increased inflammation throughout the whole body.

Research shows that over-activity of inflammatory pathways in our body may increase (arterial) heart disease and heart attack.

Therefore, it is recommended people visit their dentist regularly to check their gum health in addition to regular brushing and flossing.

You have puffy legs and feet

Congestive heart failure can cause swelling in the legs and feet. This is especially true when people have unusual shortness of breath with activity or when trying to sleep.

If you experience swelling during the day but it is gone at night naturally, maybe you don’t need to worry.

But if you have persistent or worsening puffy legs and feet, you should visit your physician to check heart failure.

You have sexual problems

For men, erectile dysfunction is a typical sign of arterial disease. Research shows that plaque builds up in the arteries of the body, and it is the reason erectile dysfunction precedes heart problems in men.

In women, things can be a bit different. A drop in libido often shows a post-menopausal state. Women who are post-menopausal rapidly increase their risk of developing heart disease.

Why does this happen?

While menopause doesn’t cause cardiovascular diseases itself, certain heart-health risks—such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels—begin around the time of menopause.

Many women may also develop a more sedentary lifestyle in this phase of their lives.

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