Too many people still miss heart trouble
Is your heart healthy? In a 2015 study published in JAMA, eight out of 10 men and women with scarring on their heart muscle – evidence of a previous heart attack – had no clue their heart had been in danger. The name for this kind of heart trouble is silent myocardial infarction (SMI). One reason people may miss SMIs is that they don’t listen to what their heart is telling them. Here’s how to understand your heart’s language and figure out if you have an unhealthy heart.
Signs of heart trouble: You get easily fatigued doing any physical activity
If you usually run a couple of kilometres every day with ease but suddenly are overcome with a flu-like fatigue, that may be a sign your usually healthy heart is not pumping enough blood throughout your body. “Activities that used to be easy and now are suddenly met with new difficulty can be a red flag that something is wrong,” says Erin Michos, MD, associate professor of medicine and director of preventive cardiology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. If a good night’s sleep doesn’t fix your overwhelming exhaustion, make an appointment with your doctor right away.
Signs of heart trouble: You’re having sexual problems in the bedroom
One of the classic signs of heart trouble is erectile dysfunction. Anxiety, depression and stress can also inhibit your ability to get intimate with your partner. But your bedroom troubles also could stem from blocked arteries, which prevent blood from flowing properly to your penis.
Vascular erectile dysfunction is the most common type of sexual dysfunction and is often caused by two kinds of diseases – atherosclerosis and endothelial dysfunction. Atherosclerosis causes the arteries to harden and narrow, causing heart attacks and strokes. Endothelial dysfunction prevents your blood vessels from relaxing properly, which decreases blood flow throughout your body. “Erectile dysfunction symptoms often precede the onset of heart symptoms by at least two years,” says Dr Michos. “The detection of erectile dysfunction offers a window to intervene and stop cardiac disease in its tracks.” Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or cholesterol, and lack of an exercise regimen also are risk factors for heart disease so see your doctor for regular check-ups to stay healthy.