When I say “heart health” is the first thing that pops into your head preventing heart attacks? It is for most folks. And for good reason.
The CDC says 735,000 people a year have one. And you certainly don’t want to find yourself a part of that statistic.
But there’s another troubling heart stat you should get serious about too: 5.7 million. That’s how many people in the United States alone have heart failure.
Heart failure plays a part in one out of every nine deaths. Yet most folks have no idea what early warning signs they should be on the lookout for.
Part of the problem is that they’re subtle and easy to miss. In fact, they’re often mistaken for other minor health issues. Or simply chalked up to getting older.
Heart failure red flags you shouldn’t ignore
But if you can confirm you have more than one symptom on the list I’m about to share with you it’s time to make an appointment to see your doctor.
Following are six early warning signs of heart failure you should never ignore.
1. Shortness of breath:
Many folks fall into the habit of ignoring shortness of breath. They blame it on getting older or being out of shape.
But if you’re constantly feeling out of breathe after doing your regular activities it could be a warning sign for heart failure. Especially if you find yourself breathing harder when you’re lying down or sleeping.
When your heart isn’t pumping effectively, it has a difficult time keeping up with your blood supply. As a result, blood essentially backs up in the vessels that move blood from your lungs back to your heart. And when this happens, it causes fluid to leak into your lungs forcing you to breathe harder.
2. A persistent cough:
If you find yourself with an unexplained cough or wheezing that just won’t go away, it may be an early warning sign for heart failure.
Fluid building up in your lungs triggers the cough. And it often comes with foamy white or pink (blood-tinged) mucus.
If you suddenly find yourself feeling fatigued all the time, it could be a sign your heart isn’t working as well as it should. In fact, folks suffering from undiagnosed heart failure often start to unconsciously limit their activity level to help conserve energy.
For example, you might drive around parking lots far longer than you used to, until you can get a space closer to the door. Or you may let the dishes pile up in the sink or leave laundry undone for longer and longer periods.
This happens because your heart is no longer able to pump enough blood to meet all of your needs. So your body begins to divert blood away from less vital areas.
4. Changes in appetite:
Loss of appetite, nausea, and sometimes even vomiting can all be early warning signs of heart failure.
When your heart’s not pumping effectively, not enough blood reaches your digestive system. Which means your body has to work harder to process your food. And you can end up feeling too full or sick to your stomach.
5. Confusion or difficulty focusing:
Your blood carries vital nutrients throughout your body. But when you have heart failure and your circulation is impaired, those nutrients don’t always get where they need to go.
Dropping levels of nutrients such as sodium can cause concentration problems, memory loss and even disorientation. All signs your heart isn’t doing its job well anymore.
6. Frequent nighttime urination:
If you find yourself having to get up to pee several times a night, it could be a warning that your heart is in trouble. When your ticker isn’t working up to par it, eventually, effects all of your other organs, including your kidneys.
When your kidneys start slowing down they can’t remove fluid from your system as efficiently. Which means it starts to build up in your muscles and tissues. This backup—called edema—is often visible during the day in the form of swollen legs, feet and ankles.
But when you lie down at night the fluid that pools in your extremities during the day returns to your heart. This triggers your heart to work a bit harder in turn stimulating your kidneys to produce more urine. And as a result, you wear a hole in the carpet making round trips to the toilet.
Any one of these symptoms alone could be concerning. But if you can place a check mark next to two or more, they could be red flags for a hidden heart problem.
Catching heart failure early is essential. So, don’t ignore your symptoms hoping they’ll just go away. Talk to your doctor today about a plan to keep your heart—and you—plugging along and in the pink for many more years to come.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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