Heart diseases are the main cause of death among U.S. citizens. About 700,000 Americans die from various heart problems annually. According to CardioSmart, nearly 1 in every 4 people is killed by heart disease each year. Most signs of an improperly functioning heart are typically passed off as minor issues or even mere inconveniences. While experiencing one of these symptoms isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, having a few of them may signal the onset of heart disease or even potential heart attack.
If you experience more than one of these symptoms, make visiting a health care provider your top priority.
1. Pain in the chest and shoulder
Chest pain that’s located near the heart is the most obvious sign of a possible heart attack. This pain typically occurs due to the death of heart muscle cells. In some cases, your heart can become so tight and strained that the pain will start traveling in your upper torso. If chest pain reaches your shoulder, it’s called angina. Angina is often linked to impaired and inadequate blood flow to the heart. Acute shoulder pain usually isn’t an indication of a heart problem. However, the pain that builds slowly and worsens over time may be due to heart disease.
2. Snoring and difficulty sleeping
Snoring and sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea are commonly associated with heart disease and other cardiovascular problems. Sleep apnea is a condition that causes your breathing to repeatedly stop and start during sleep. It leads to poor sleep patterns that stress your heart. According to the American Heart Association, sleep apnea can trigger hypertension, irregular heartbeat, heart failure, and stroke. Besides, if you’ve recently started snoring or experiencing difficulty breathing while sleeping, it can be due to improper work of your heart. Another sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea, which typically develops due to excessive weight, is also a major risk factor for heart disease. Obstructive sleep apnea is triggered by your body weight blocking the airflow and causing poor sleeping patterns. Consider visiting a medical center for treating your sleep apnea and reducing your risk of heart disease.
3. Sexual dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is difficulty achieving or sustaining an erection that’s firm enough to perform sexual intercourse. Erectile dysfunction can stem from poor blood flow from your heart to the penis. It can indicate atherosclerosis, a condition in which arteries are obstructed by plaque and fatty material.
A recent study has stated that sexual dysfunction is directly related to heart disease. Experts say that when most heart disease patients resumed sexual activity, they often endured dissatisfaction, lack of interest, and decreased frequency of sex. Women were also included in this study. The female libido can decrease due to poor blood flow to the vagina caused by an improperly working heart.
4. Chronic cough
A chronic cough doesn’t always indicate an improperly functioning heart due to being a symptom of various ailments like flu, cold, and bronchitis. However, a cough that hardly ever improves or stops can signal fluid accumulation in your lungs, which is a symptom of congestive heart failure. When your heart fails to pump effectively, blood can build up in the vessels that help it travel through the lungs. When the pressure in these veins gets higher, blood can pour into your lungs. This can result in a persistent cough and shortness of breath.
The bottom line
If you’re having a combination of the aforementioned symptoms, don’t wait till they subside on their own and visit an experienced cardiologist to determine their proper cause. A specialist will assess your symptoms and determine the most appropriate treatment plan.