Like many other chronic diseases, heart disease develops over time. It’s quite likely that long before you show seriously debilitating symptoms of heart problems, your body will display warning signs and symptoms of the same. Being aware of the risk factors that lead to cardiovascular diseases, identifying them in your life and detecting signs of heart disease early on is very important for reducing the severity of the disease.
Reading the signs of heart disease
In a recent study published in the European Heart Journal, researchers have indicated that a specially designed deep-learning computer algorithm could be a user-friendly way to detect coronary artery disease early. You could simply take a selfie and send it to your doctor, and the algorithm would screen your face for typical signs of heart disease. During the course of the study involving 6,809 participants, the algorithm was able to correctly identify heart disease in 80% of cases, and easily outperformed the existing methods of predicting heart disease.
However, this algorithm needs to be developed further and tested on larger groups of people before it can actually be launched as a viable means of detecting heart disease. Until then, you may have to use conventional methods. As per Harvard Health Publishing, chest pain or angina is considered to be one of the most common signs of heart disease, but it often doesn’t present in patients and sometimes shows up when it’s almost too late.
Instead, there are a number of other signs which can help you realize early on that you’re developing heart disease so that you can get medical attention sooner rather than later, when a heart attack or stroke might occur. The following are the early symptoms of heart diseases you should never ignore:
Fatigue or extreme tiredness can simply suggest you need more rest and sleep. However, extreme exhaustion without necessarily having physically exerted yourself to that extent can be a sign of an emerging heart issue. You should ask yourself if you feel more tired than normal, if your tiredness has a sudden and severe onset, and if your fatigue completely throws off your ability to complete daily tasks. If the answer to any of these is yes, talk to a doctor without delay.
Palpitations refer to a heartbeat that’s rapid or irregular and usually occurs during exertions or agitations. Sometimes, palpitations occur due to caffeine overdose or dehydration. But if none of these other factors exists and you’re still getting prolonged palpitations, it could indication to an issue with your cardiovascular system.
3. Unexplained pain
No, this type of pain is not located in the chest. It’s often felt in the shoulders, arms, back, jaw and/or abdomen, and indicates that your blood vessels either have a blockage or that they’ve narrowed. Narrowing or blocking of blood vessels is another sign that your cardiovascular system is unhealthy and at risk of severe disease.
4. Swelling in lower extremities
Just like it causes pain in the upper body, blocked or narrowed blood vessels in the lower half of the body often lead to swelling in the legs, ankle and feet. It’s important to note that swelling in these areas can also be signs of kidney or liver diseases, so it’s best to consult a doctor about the underlying cause behind this symptom.
5. Shortness of breath
You might think coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath are symptoms of only lung diseases and respiratory issues, but it can often indicate a heart issue. If your heart is unable to pump blood properly, the blood backs up in the veins and can leak into the lungs - and this causes shortness of breath. To check if this is happening due to heart disease, observe if you feel shortness of breath during minimal activities while resting and/or when you’re lying on your back. If you check these boxes, go to a heart specialist immediately.
For more information, read our article on Heart Disease.
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