Heart disease is often considered a disease of the elderly and middle-aged, as well as obese people.
But while the average person is diagnosed in their 60s, doctors say the warning signs can show up decades in advance.
However, symptoms can start out subtle, increasing the risk of them being missed or dismissed.
According to Mount Sinai cardiologist Dr. Dheepak Bhatt, common issues like anxiety, fatigue, and limb pain could actually be a sign of a deeper problem.
These signs will be harmless to the vast majority of people, but if a person experiences them along with chest tightness or has a family history of heart disease, they may want to see a doctor.
He said behaviors such as quitting smoking or vaping, being more active, eating a healthier diet and even avoiding marijuana can reduce a young person’s risk of heart disease.
The condition is the number one killer of Americans. It is responsible for approximately 700,000 deaths each year.
It is estimated that eight percent of American men and four percent of women suffer from the disease.
Although everyone feels a little anxious, in some cases, that uneasy feeling you carry around can be a sign of a heart problem.
Anxiety and heart disease have a symbiotic relationship. Being constantly on edge stresses the body, damaging the heart over time.
A person with heart disease is also more likely to suffer from anxiety.
“It is difficult to know which came first. It’s a chicken or the egg situation,” says Dr. Bhatt.
A person’s heart problems, such as palpitations, irregular heartbeat, or just general pain, induce stress in people, leading to anxiety.
This, in turn, further aggravates a person’s heart disease symptoms.
A 2015 study by researchers at Harvard University found that anxious people with coronary heart disease (CAD) were more likely to die.
Their risk increased by 21%.
The effect of anxiety on the heart is not the only factor at play, however.
According to experts, people with mental disorders are less likely to seek medical attention and more likely to follow a diet high in cholesterol.
As a result, their symptoms go untreated and are even aggravated by their daily food intake.
It is thought that one in five American adults suffers from anxiety each year – although many are undiagnosed or do not receive treatment for the condition.
In the United States, people with anxiety are more likely to be younger – with a higher prevalence among those under 45 – and female.
While it may be hard to imagine that the pain in your legs means anything to your heart, a tingling sensation in your limbs could signal deeper issues.
Numbness, pain and tingling in the legs can be a sign that there is not enough blood circulating to the extremities of the body.
Known as peripheral arterial disease (PAD), the condition occurs when arteries in the legs become narrowed and blocked due to plaque buildup.
This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as a poor diet high in sodium or cholesterol, too much stress, smoking, or obesity.
There are five arteries in a person’s legs and each plays a crucial role in circulating blood to the outermost regions of the body and then to the heart.
In the thigh, a person has his femoral and popliteal arteries. The anterior tibial, posterior tibial, and peroneal arteries are all located in the lower leg, around the shins and calves.
When these arteries become clogged – preventing enough blood from flowing to the lower regions of the body – the tissues are damaged.
In the most severe cases, the obstruction of blood flow can lead to amputation. The American Heart Association warns that 54% of amputations in the United States are related to PAD.
This symptom is often overlooked, says Dr. Bhatt. Leg pain can be the result of poor form or injury, and doctors will rarely link legs to heart disease.
“Even doctors don’t think about it,” he said.
If a person experiences pain, numbness or tingling in the legs while walking, then it suddenly stops when they take a moment to rest, Dr Bhatt says it might be time to go to the doctor. doctor.
These could also be signs of a heart attack or stroke, says Dr. Bhatt.
“Numbness or weakness in an arm or leg could be a symptom of a stroke,” he said.
People with heart attacks may also first feel pain in their arm – usually the left arm – along with chest tightness.
Another link that many people may not instinctively make is stomach and digestive pain.
People with heart disease will often have sudden, short-lived stomach pain at first. As their cardiovascular condition worsens, their gastrointestinal problems occur more often.
A sudden, sharp pain will occur, usually in the upper right part of a person’s stomach.
This could be caused by angina intestinale, which occurs when an insufficient amount of blood reaches the colon.
People with this condition often experience pain within an hour of eating a meal. Along with the sharp pain, they might also experience diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
Many who suffer from angina will also experience significant weight loss over time, as they will instinctively eat fewer and smaller meals to avoid pain.
Restricted blood flow can also be caused by clotting of the arteries in the stomach.
Called intestinal ischemia, the clotting can significantly reduce blood flow through a person’s small intestine.
These clots often form as a result of an irregular or rapid heartbeat. In addition to stomach pain, it can also lead to stroke.
Both of these conditions may first appear as nausea, before escalating into more serious and noticeable symptoms.
Some people, and maybe even doctors, might label the problems as heartburn or some other digestive problem, not realizing that it is actually a serious heart condition.
Dr Dheepak Bhatt, a cardiologist at Mount Sinai, warned that many young people could make the fatal mistake of overlooking early signs of heart problems.
Although everyone feels tired at times, severe fatigue can be a sign of a heart problem.
“Fatigue is hard,” Dr. Bhatt said.
“It’s a very non-specific symptom. Most fatigue isn’t due to heart disease, maybe just a bad night’s sleep.
But, he explains, when the blood can’t pump enough blood to vital organs, a person will feel tired.
“If the heart isn’t pumping efficiently, that blood and oxygen don’t reach the vital organs,” he continued.
This can cause a host of problems. Not enough blood reaching the lungs can cause them to be unable to take in enough oxygen.
When the kidney does not receive enough blood, it will struggle to remove waste from the body.
If enough blood does not reach the liver, the organ’s tissue cells will begin to die and the organ may fail.
One of the first signs of each of them is fatigue. Although fatigue on any given day can be caused by a multitude of issues, doctors advise people with chronic fatigue to seek medical attention.
Profuse sweating is a bizarre but common symptom of heart problems.
People with cardiovascular disease often sweat because their bodies have to work harder to pump blood.
Sweating also keeps body temperature low, thereby reducing the workload of the heart.
Sweating also removes excess fluids from the body, which reduces the workload of the kidneys in cleaning fluids from the body.
If the kidneys are struggling to perform their functions due to heart failure, sweating can help keep vital organs afloat.
Dr. Bhatt also says it could make the body realize it has a problem and try to figure it out.
“(It could be) the brain and various aspects of the nervous system’s trigger circuits, because it knows something is wrong,” he explained.
He also said that sudden and profuse sweating, especially when a person is not exercising, could be one of the first signs of a heart attack.