Hearts are a complicated matter. They have their own mind it seems. Their own way of doing things. They even have their own electrical stimulus to keep them beating in the correct way. When things go wrong with our hearts, it is a big deal. We are all very aware of the signs of a heart attack. Tightness in the chest, shooting pains in the jaw or arm, indigestion, etc. What if there were earlier signs that you had to know if something was going wrong? Here are a few:
Trouble breathing when sleeping. Sleep apnea, snoring and other breathing problems when sleeping damage your body due to a lack of oxygen. When you don't breathe correctly, your body doesn't get all the oxygen it requires and the result is your body working harder. The harder it works, the faster it weakens. So if you find yourself having a headache, dry mouth, or sore throat in the morning, waking up to urinate often in the middle of the night, having difficulty with memory and learning, being unable to concentrate, having mood swings or personality changes, being irritable, you should definitely see a doctor.
If your gums are sore, swollen or bleed easily/often. This is called periodontal disease and is linked to heart disease. The link is due to the plaque buildup in the arteries which restricts blood flow & circulation. There may also be a link between the bacteria that causes both of these diseases. Bottom line: see a dentist regularly & keep those pearly whites clean.
Puffy or swollen legs or feet. This condition is known also as edema. It occurs first in fingers, toes, feet, & hands because they are the furthest from the heart. When the heart is not strong enough to pump blood, it fails to carry waste products away from tissues. This causes them to collect in extremities.
Irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia. This is generally caused by Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). It limits blood flow to the heart, which in turn strains that electrical system we talked about. Further, the heart has to work harder and faster to pump blood making heart failure a possible outcome. The good news is that two very simple tests can be ordered by your doctor if you have an irregular heartbeat, so as to catch any problems early on and deal with them.
Tight or sore chest or shoulder. This is called angina. Its due to a lack of blood to the heart, making it feel tight. How do you tell if its really angina or just a pulled muscle? Well, if its a recurrent condition, its definitely angina. If it just hurts for a day or so after a hard workout, its a pulled muscle.
Shortness of breath. This brings us back to oxygen. When your heart doesn't pump correctly, your body makes up for it by breathing harder and faster. This is how it makes up for the lack of oxygen its getting.
For more information on this topic, http://www.caring.com/articles/surprising-signs-unhealthy-heart is a very informative article. Further, the Wayne County YMCA has a great program called “In the Cardiac Direction” that can help if you suffer from any heart-related problems. For more information about the YMCA, contact us at (570) 253-2083, or online at ymcawayne.com.