One of the most cliche scenes found in movies is when a person gets angry with someone, suddenly clutches their chest, seems to have difficulty breathing, and then keels over – unconscious and also likely deceased. This is essentially the stereotypical portrayal of someone suffering from a heart attack. While one might think that heart attacks in real life are uncommon, though, the truth is that many suffer from heart ailments that could lead to an attack if not diagnosed early.
Heart problems often have easy-to-overlook symptoms, and by the time a person collapses with chest pain, the damage is done. Because of this, early detection of possible heart conditions and taking preventative measures is the key to surviving them. But how does one know if someone’s heart is not in prime condition? Not everyone with heart ailments or a heart attack waiting to happen will feel the classic chest pain. Here are five tell-tale signs that your heart is not performing well as it should be, and what can be done to address these conditions.
Are you feeling exhausted after going for a short run when you have had no problems doing it before? Or is hauling your usual bag of groceries more tiring than usual? This can be a sign that your heart is not performing in its best capacity. Exhaustion as a sign of heart disease is more prevalent in women compared to men, and it’s critical that you see your doctor right away if you feel inexplicably worn out for days on end. Only the doctor can rule out whether it’s just fatigue or your heart is what’s causing you to be extra tired.
A heart beating like a drum is regular when you’re excited. Having this occur out of the blue, though, is called arrhythmia (or an irregular heartbeat) and is a red flag. Arrhythmia is often a sign of an underlying heart condition. With tachycardia, a specific type of arrhythmia that causes the heart to beat very fast, the patient could feel as though their heart was beating so fast that they could actually die. It’s not far from the truth, though.
Tachycardia is often treated with medications like Sotalol HCl and other related prescription drugs. For different kinds of arrhythmia, other medications are used to address an irregular rhythm of the heart. Or if the patient has the opposite of tachycardia (which is known as bradycardia, or the slow beating of the heart) your doctor may prescribe other necessary medications. Nonetheless, an irregular heartbeat is extremely dangerous, and the patient must see a doctor right away to prevent further complications.
Feeling a numbing pain in the jaw or throat area in itself is not automatically an indication of a heart attack on its own, and it can suggest other underlying conditions. However, if the pain starts in the chest then spreads and includes these two areas, dial 9-1-1 right away. Combined with the other symptoms, it is likely a sign of a heart attack, particularly when accompanied by profuse sweating and shortness of breath.
Additionally, when the pain radiates down to the left arm and the rest of the left side of your body, it could be an impending sign of a heart attack. Wait for no further, and immediately go to the nearest hospital for treatment. Even if the pain is limited only to the left arm, take no chances with these symptoms. You need to call emergency services right away.
Swollen legs, ankles, and feet could also be an early sign that your heart is not pumping as efficiently as it should be. Fluid retention (also known as edema) occurs when the heart fails to pump fast enough to prevent blood from backing up in the veins, causing it to back up in the body. Heart failure may also cause the kidneys to have difficulty removing extra water and sodium from the body, leading to swelling in the lower extremities. Though this symptom isn’t an immediate indicator of a pending heart attack, it does suggest that your heart is slowly failing.
Early prevention through a thorough checkup is the best thing to do. Fortunately, heart conditions that are not congenital are preventable with several healthy lifestyle changes and through the appropriate medication from your healthcare provider. However, if you face these tell-tale signs, it is best to waste no time and see contact your doctor right away. The risk of a heart attack increases more as time passes, and the damage is often irreversible. Please do not ignore these signs. Your heart – as well as your loved ones – will thank you for it.