Heart disease is still the #1 killer in the United States, causing roughly 600,000 deaths. The main risk factors are smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, age, and family history of heart disease at a young age. Although you can’t control age or family history, the first four risk factors are in our control through a combination of healthy lifestyle choices and, if need be, medication.
Signs of heart disease
One of the big problems that people face is not realizing the signs of heart disease. Most people know that crushing left-sided chest pain could be a heart attack or angina. Some know that left-sided chest pain radiating to the jaw or left arm can also mean heart disease. But many don’t realize that other common symptoms could be signs of heart disease as well. These include:
- Heartburn or indigestion
- Shortness of breath on exertion
- Dizziness on exertion
Understanding the symptoms
That’s not to say that if a person has any of the above they for sure have heart disease. Indeed, several benign conditions can lead to these symptoms as well. However, if you experience any of these symptoms during exercise, other physical exertion, or when emotionally upset (say after a heated argument) and they occur on a regular basis, then it’s worth checking out, especially if you have any of the risk factors mentioned earlier in the post. Women, the elderly, and diabetics are especially prone to having atypical symptoms, which is a reason heart disease is at times missed.
Lastly, erectile dysfunction (ED) is a marker for heart disease. If you suffer from ED and you’re in your late 30s or older, then it’s worth mentioning to your physician, and being worked up for elevated cholesterol, sugar, blood pressure, and at times for heart disease as well.
Again, I want to emphasize that you shouldn’t be paranoid and assume every symptom that you feel is a heart attack; however, by being vigilant and pragmatic, you ensure that you will be able to receive proper care and prevent any potentially lethal problems.