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Early Signs Your Heart Is Failing

Although your heart is vital, you may not know when it is in trouble. The early signs of heart problems are sometimes vague (like fatigue), or seen as unrelated (like heartburn or gum problems).

“The heart needs oxygen in the blood delivered to it through arteries. When there’s interrupted delivery like a blocked artery or a demand for increased heart output when it can’t deliver, the result is bad blood flow and oxygen to your entire body,” Satjit Bhusri, MD, cardiologist says.

As a result, symptoms can appear all over, because your heart is at the center or “engine” of everything. “If your heart slows down or gets clogged, the engine starts falling apart,” Dr. Bhusri says.

So don’t wait for a heart attack to hit. Pay attention to these signs that your engine may need a tune-up. Here are 7 signs of a heart problem:

1. You’re always tired

It’s easy to believe low energy is just a result of a full day and ignore it as something you need to push through everyday, but the problem may come from your heart.

“When the muscles of the heart start to fail, it might be a slow-going failure, and the symptoms could be as small as fatigue,” Dr. Bhusri warns.

If you know you are getting good sleep, but you still have fatigue, it’s a warning sign.

2. Stairs cause you to be out of breath

Walking up stairs might cause you to huff and puff— maybe you’re just out of shape?

If you cannot tolerate exercise the way you used to or can’t get through your everyday activities (like going up stairs), that’s a sign your heart may not be in its healthiest shape because it can not effectively pump blood.

Among other heart conditions, two symptoms of cardiomyopathy and mitral valve disease are shortness of breath and exercise intolerance. So get this checked out.

3. Anxiety

There has been a lot of anxiety over the last year. But anxiety can sometimes be a symptom of a heart condition.

“When the heart’s electricity goes bad, it appears as anxiety or heart palpitations,” Dr. Bhusri reports. (Palpitations are when your heart feels as though it is skipping beats. That alone can lead to anxiety.)

Stress and panic attacks can trigger palpitations, and anxiety disorders are also linked to cardiovascular issues, according to research in ​Current Psychiatry Reports​.

4. Dizziness

Bad blood circulation makes it hard to get adequate blood to your brain and inner ear (which keeps your  balance), according to the world famous Mayo Clinic.

If your heart can’t move blood where it needs to, you might feel almost drunk, lightheaded or dizzy after standing up.

5. Painful or burning chest

It might be heartburn — but it could be something else.

“When the heart’s pipes are clogged, it might manifest as hard to pinpoint pains in the chest area, arm, neck and even back,” Dr. Bhusri warns. All signs you should not ignore.

6. Gums bleeding after brushing

If you see that brushing and flossing is triggering your gums to bleed, take note. This is not normal and can mean gingivitis (inflamed gums) or disease of the gums.

As for your heart, gum disease is linked with high blood pressure and bad blood pressure management for those on blood pressure meds, according to a study in ​Hypertension​.

Talk to a dentist about how you can improve your oral routine, but also mention this to your doctor as well.

7. Your ‘Netflix’ heart rate is higher

To measure your heart’s resting rate, place your fingers on your wrist or neck to count your pulse. Count the number of beats that happen for 30 seconds, and double that number and you will know your BPM (beats per minute).

If you get 60 to 100 bpm (hopefully below 90 bpm), it’s a sign your heart is working good. Anything higher, or higher than what is normal for you, deserves a mentioning at your next doctor’s visit.

The Truth

Make a promise to yourself to get your ticker checked out if you see any of these symptoms or are at all concerned about your heart.

“Any sign of more fatigue, vague heartburn feelings and abnormal heart rates should be screened for disease. Too often, care is only attained after the damage is already done,” Dr. Bhusri warns.

Call your doctor and get on his or her schedule. Your heart will thank you for it.

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