Overview of Heart Ailment: Prominent Causes & Risk Factors
Heart disease is any condition that affects the heart, this includes coronary heart disease, blood vessel diseases, arrhythmias (heart rhythm problems), congenital heart defects, heart valve problems, heart muscle problems, and many more. The term cardiovascular disease is alternatively used for heart disease. Cardiovascular disease encompasses all the conditions of the heart as well as problems with the blood vessels that can cause heart attacks, strokes or angina (chest pain). The risk factors for heart disease are smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sedentary lifestyles, excessive use of alcohol, stress and a family history of heart disease.
Symptoms You Should Never Ignore
Heart diseases do not always have symptoms of chest pain and there are other symptoms that should not be ignored. In general, it can be said that symptoms that are caused by exertion and relieved by rest might indicate a heart-related problem. People who have other risk factors should be particularly vigilant for such symptoms of heart disease.
Fatigue could be a sign of overwork and insufficient rest. But, when a person experiences extreme fatigue and a feeling of weakness when doing activities that were normally not tiresome, it might indicate heart problems. This fatigue could last for days on end. Unexplained and prolonged fatigue is an often overlooked symptom, especially in women.
Shortness Of Breath
Breathlessness that is out of proportion with exertion is a sign of an underlying heart problem. Feeling breathless after some exertion is normal. But when an otherwise easy activity makes one feel as if one has undergone some stressful exertion and feel out of breath, it is a cause for concern.
People often associate chest pain with heart problems. While chest pain or chest discomfort is the most frequently experienced heart-related pain, this pain can manifest in other parts of the body. The pain could be felt in the jaw, back, shoulders, arms and even in the abdomen. Some people think that heart-related pain radiates from the chest to the area of pain, but in some cases, it could be an isolated pain that is originating from a heart problem.
One should observe if this pain is brought on by exertion and relieved by rest which is a sure sign of heart issues. If it is a brief pain or a pain that gets worse eventually, it might not be related to heart-induced complications.
Palpitation is an irregular or sudden rapid heartbeat. It could be caused by caffeine, dehydration or anxiety and in most cases, are harmless. It is normal for the heart to skip a beat or to race when there is a reason to be nervous or excited. However, one should be aware that sometimes heart problems have the symptom of palpitations. When a palpitation or rapid heartbeat occurs with absolutely no trigger and when one is calm and relaxed it is advised to go and see a doctor. One should also make a note of and tell the doctor how the palpitations feel and what one was doing at the time.
Swollen Feet Or Ankles
When the heart has problems it impacts the usual blood circulation process in the body. This causes the blood to be accumulated in veins causing swelling. An inefficient heart also makes it difficult for the kidneys to efficiently remove excess sodium and water from the body which also causes swelling and bloating. This is seen as swelling in the legs, ankles or feet. Swelling could also be caused by high salt intake, kidney problems, venous insufficiency in the legs and as a side effect of certain drugs. It is better to check any unexplained swelling with a doctor.
A cough that just does not go away or respond to treatment could be a sign of heart trouble. Those who have other risk factors should be alert for a persistent cough producing pink or white mucus and get it checked by a doctor.
When To Seek Medical Assistance
It is always better to err on the side of caution and get any heart problem symptoms checked by a doctor. One should be aware that symptoms that are brought on by exertion and that get better after rest are most frequently heart-related. The symptoms could be something unconnected to the chest area but could very well be a warning sign that should not be ignored.