Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and worldwide, killing around 695,000 Americans every year according to the American Society of Cardiology. Being aware of the signs and symptoms of heart problems can help with early detection and prevention of further complications. This comprehensive article will cover the visible signs on your body indicating potential heart issues, the common symptoms you may experience, and tips to avoid heart problems in the future.
7 Visible Signs On The Body
Paying attention to the following subtle signs on your body can help uncover hidden heart problems:
Frank’s sign refers to a diagonal crease on the ear which may indicate blocked arteries. While not everyone with a creased ear has artery blockage, 70% of younger people under 40 with this sign may have coronary obstructions. So while common in the elderly, Frank’s sign in younger people warrants a closer look.
Hair Loss On Legs
Losing hair on the shins and thighs can signify peripheral arterial disease and thus blocked leg arteries. Since atherosclerosis affects arteries throughout the body, finding it in the legs may mean it’s also present in the heart. The nutrient-deprived hair follicles produce less hair.
Yellowish plaque deposits called xanthelasmas on the eyelids are markers of high cholesterol or triglycerides. Even though only 1% of people with high cholesterol have these growths, their presence significantly raises heart disease and stroke risk.
Arcus senilis causes a white or gray ring in the cornea, often visible above or below the colored iris. Extremely common after age 60 where up to 100% develop it, arcus senilis is normal. But in those under 45 it warns of severely high cholesterol requiring prompt treatment.
Skin acquiring a bluish or purplish tinge, called cyanosis, frequently stems from inadequate oxygenated blood circulating in that body part. It may reflect blocked arteries and warrants an urgent cardiology workup, especially when accompanying shortness of breath.
Leg And Feet Ulcers
Non-healing wounds on the lower limbs often result from poor circulation secondary to arterial blockages. The surrounding skin may even lose sensation. Such arterial ulcers typically involve the heels and toes but don’t bleed. They require revascularization procedures.
Swelling In Lower Limbs
Fluid accumulation causing swollen ankles, feet and legs may indicate heart failure where the overworked heart cannot pump effectively. Gravity worsens leg swelling which reduces upon lying down with elevated legs. It necessitates diuretics and managing the underlying heart disorder.
7 Symptoms You May Experience
Be attentive to the following common symptoms that may reflect an underlying heart condition:
1. Shortness Of Breath
Breathlessness disproportionate to your activities warns of strains on the heart. It may progressively worsen with routine tasks becoming intolerable.
2. Chronic Cough
A nagging cough bringing up white/pink phlegm shows fluid backup in the lungs due to heart dysfunction. Such coughs should never be overlooked.
In orthopnea, breathing difficulties surface on lying flat, causing people to sleep propped up on piles of pillows. It suggests fluid collection in lungs resulting from the heart’s reduced pumping capacity.
4. Easy Fatiguability
When even basic activities like combing hair or walking short distances trigger inordinate tiredness, the heart may be inadequately perfusing bodily tissues. Checkup is mandatory.
Needing to wake up frequently at night for urination, called nocturia, accompanies heart failure when blood circulation decreases during sleep. The kidneys excrete excess fluid buildup as urine.
6. Intermittent Claudication
Calf discomfort while walking which disappears on resting, known as intermittent claudication, shows arteries cannot deliver sufficient oxygenated blood to leg muscles when active. Heart evaluation is vital.
7. Chest Pain
Chest discomfort or tightness frequently stems from blood supply issues within coronary arteries. Such cardiac pain may radiate to other sites like the arms or back. Immediate cardiology review is mandatory when present.
Tips To Avoid Heart Problems
You can protect your heart health by implementing the following lifestyle measures: Exercise regularly – opt for walking, cycling or swimming. Quit smoking to limit artery damage. Reduce weight if obese or overweight. Follow a nutritious diet with fruits, vegetables and healthy fats while limiting red meat and processed foods. Check blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar routinely. Discuss family history of premature cardiac disease with your doctor. The above signs, symptoms and prevention tips will help safeguard you and your loved ones from dangerous heart problems. Remember to share this useful information with others too.