Early heart failure signs and the proper functioning of the heart are more than vital for life!
According to the CDC, (1) heart attacks, especially acute myocardial infarction, are one of the leading causes of death.
Experts estimate that 40% of deaths worldwide are due to them.
Cardiovascular diseases are also the leading cause of death in Europe, with cardiac causes accounting for 40% of deaths in European countries.
Every year, the second week of February, and the week from February 6 to 12 for the US for 2023, is “Heart Failure Awareness Week.” In Europe, the second week of May is dedicated to heart failure and is called “Heart Failure Awareness Day.”
These are important initiatives and efforts to inform the public about the prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment of heart diseases.
Countless factors can cause heart problems, but most are due to poor lifestyle choices.
But fortunately, our body always gives us warning signs early enough to fix a health problem while it is still in its early stages.
Knowing these signs of early heart failure can prevent a future heart attack and even save your life.
The 10 warning signs of early heart failure
In today’s article, you will discover the ten strange warning signs and symptoms of early heart failure and how to prevent a future heart attack or any other heart issue.
#1 A cough that won’t stop
A persistent cough can be a symptom of various health problems, and cardiovascular disease is one of them. (2)
Chronic cough, for example, mainly when it produces bloody fluid, is prevalent in people with heart failure. (3)
This sign may mean that a person’s heart is not pumping blood as well as it should, so the body is not getting enough oxygen because it is carried to the tissues by the blood.
#2 Chronic or sudden fatigue (a characteristic sign of early heart failure)
Fatigue can be one of the main symptoms that indicate a possible heart attack. (4)
Women are more likely to experience heart-related fatigue than men. For example, almost 70% of female heart attack patients report feeling extremely tired before a heart attack. (5)
It is hard for this symptom to go unnoticed because sometimes even simple things like making the bed or taking a shower are exhausting.
#3 Nausea and anorexia
Many people with heart disease experience loss of appetite, nausea, or both, even after eating just two bites. (6)
This feeling is because fluid may have built up around the liver and intestines, interfering with proper digestion. The above symptoms are usually accompanied by abdominal pain, an upset stomach, or feeling bloated.
Abdominal cramps that come and go at short intervals are common signs before a heart attack. (7)
#4 The skin turns pale or takes on a bluish tint
Being generally pale does not necessarily mean that the heart is not functioning correctly.
But sudden pallor can result from reduced blood flow due to a heart not pumping blood as efficiently as it should. (8)
Also, sudden shocks that any situation can cause may prevent proper blood circulation. (9)
Blood dysfunction is a significant reason people who experience a heart attack or heart failure die suddenly.
#5 Pain radiating down the arm
Many men feel pain in their left arm when the heart is not working correctly. While usually, women feel pain in one or both hands. (10)
Many women even report that they felt elbow pain before a heart attack. This feeling usually happens because the heart pain travels to the spinal cord, where many nerves connect. (11)
This means the brain gets confused, thinking that the arm hurts when the main problem may be in the heart.
#6 Swollen feet and ankles
When our heart does not function properly, the necessary blood does not reach the body. Thus, blood and fluid can pool in other parts of the body, causing swelling in the feet and ankles. (12)
Heart or kidney failure are common causes and usually apply when swelling occurs in both ankles and feet.
However, leg swelling can be due to many other causes, such as a liver problem, an injury, a pregnancy, high blood pressure, or even if you sit for a long time.
#7 Sudden anxiety and extreme stress levels
A multitude of studies from various cardiology associations worldwide state that people who experience extreme situations and stress levels, especially young ones, are more likely to develop coronary heart disease. (13)
Excessive stress in various everyday situations can create anxiety, panic attacks, or fear.
Many of these conditions have a significant impact on our hearts. (14)
They can cause tachycardia and abnormal heartbeats, gradually causing coronary artery disease and heart problems.
#8 Skin rashes and unusual spots
Some research, especially the one published by the American College of Cardiology, showed that eczema and herpes are high-risk factors for the development of heart attacks. (15)
People who experience eczema are 48% more likely to suffer from high blood pressure. (16) At the same time, they are 29% more likely to have high cholesterol. (17)
People with unusual spots on their bodies are 59% more likely to have a heart attack than those without spots.
#9 Difficulty breathing
It is better not to assume that shortness of breath is simply a poor physical condition matter.
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Unexplained shortness of breath with simple activities may indicate a heart problem. (18)
If you climb 25 stairs, you will not breathe easily. But climbing five stairs and not being able to catch your breath could indicate a future heart problem.
#10 Feeling of increased heart rate
When we mention “palpitations,” we mean heartbeats that become irregular or fast.
Most elevated pulses are harmless because stress, excessive caffeine intake, or even dehydration can be the source.
But, sometimes, the feeling of increased pulses indicates an early heart failure or another heart issue. (19)
It is important to note when you feel these heartbeats, how often they happen, and what you did before they started. For example, if you are resting or watching TV and your heart suddenly beats irregularly or fast, immediately talk to your doctor.
What to do if you notice the warning signs of early heart failure
The Mayo Clinic Foundation, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to clinical practice, education, and research, states: (4)
“As soon as you spot one or any signs that indicate a possible heart malfunction, you should act immediately.”
Some people wait too long to call their doctor because they don’t recognize the critical signs and symptoms.
Or simply because they think it will “never happen to them”!
If you feel any heart or body discomfort, follow the steps below:
- Get emergency medical help immediately. If you suspect there is a possibility of a heart attack, DO NOT hesitate.
- Call 911 for the US or your local emergency number as soon as possible. Inform someone to take you to the closest hospital if you cannot access emergency medical care.
- Drive yourself ONLY if no other options are available because your condition can worsen, and driving can put you and other people at risk.
- If prescribed by your doctor and allowed, use aspirin. To prevent blood clots, aspirin use during a heart attack may help to minimize cardiac damage.
However, aspirin can interact with your medications. Therefore, do not take aspirin unless your doctor or emergency medical personnel advise doing so.
Do not delay calling emergency help or taking aspirin with the emergency call for help first.
Final thoughts on early heart failure
Never forget that prevention is a better choice than cure.
Try to eat heart-healthy foods that can reduce the risk of heart attacks by 80%.
Also, avoid fried or processed foods, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption.
Try to exercise at least 3-4 hours per week and avoid sitting continuously.
You can read an accompanying article here about the: 9 Foods To Avoid When You Are Over 40
The above signs and symptoms do not mean you will ever face heart failure or such issues. But they are the most strange but common warning signs of early heart failure and are good to know.
By doing so, you may avoid unpleasant future health conditions.
If you notice any of these symptoms that indicate that the heart is not working correctly, contact your doctor immediately, even as a precaution.
Do you know any other signs of early heart failure?
Do you know of other warning signs and symptoms of possible heart failure?
You can leave your comments below.
I wish you to be always well! 🙂