Many heart attacks begin with aching in the chest, but the warning signs and symptoms aren’t the same for everyone and silent heart attacks can occur with no or very mild symptoms.Often the causes of a heart attack build over time, and can even begin in childhood.
Scientists have recently developed a new blood test that can predict heart attacks up to two weeks in advance–this test could save countless lives.
But until the test is available for widespread commercial use (it’s currently only in the testing phase), our only defence in preventing heart attacks is to look for the early symptoms indicating that the heart is in trouble. Here are nine warning signs.
Snoring, sleep apnea, and other breathing problems during sleep could signal a heart risk.
Consistent bouts of restricted breathing during sleep--the underlying cause of snoring--is linked with all types of cardiovascular disease.
In one study people with severe sleep apnea were three times more likely to die of heart disease.
Sleep apnea spells can trigger irregular heartbeats, or arrhythmias, which are abnormal rhythms of the heart caused by problems with the heart's electrical system.
Some arrhythmias are so brief that they don't affect the overall heart rate. But prolonged arrhythmias may cause the heart to pump less effectively by making the heart rate too slow or too fast or making the heart rhythm erratic.
Insomnia can cause more than just frustration and restlessness; it can also cause heart attacks.
In a 2011 study, researchers found that people who had trouble falling asleep almost daily had a 45 per cent higher heart attack risk; those who had problems staying asleep almost every night had a 30 per cent higher heart attack risk; and those didn't wake up feeling refreshed in the morning more than once a week had a 27 per cent higher heart attack risk.
Shortness of breath during activity, at rest, or even while sleeping can occur because blood may be leaking into the lungs from the pulmonary veins (vessels that return blood from the lungs to the heart).
Constant fatigue could mean that the heart can't pump enough blood to meet the body's needs, so the body diverts blood away from less vital parts of the body (like skeletal muscles) and sends it to the heart and brain.
A sensation of tightness running along the jaw and down the neck, sometimes up to the ear, can signal heart distress because of referred pain.
Since nerve fibres follow similar pathways in the nervous system, a heart attack could excite the Arnold nerve (which runs around the ear and face), meaning that alarm signals for the heart are interpreted in the brain as ear pain.
Three heart issues could lead to swollen ankles or feet: congenital heart defects that usually aren't immediately life-threatening; a worsening of the thickening and stiffening of heart muscle (i.e. cardiomyopathy); and a variety of conditions that damage the four valves of the heart (i.e. valvular heart disease).
The Mayo Clinic found that men with erectile dysfunction have an 80 per cent higher risk of heart disease and men aged 40 to 49 who experience erectile dysfunction are twice as likely to develop heart disease than men without dysfunction.
Lack of sexual desire in women can also be a sign of heart disease.
The health of your mouth is directly correlated to the health of your heart.
In a 2005 study funded by the National Institute of Health, 1,056 randomly selected participants with no prior heart attacks or strokes were evaluated for levels of periodontal bacteria and it was found that there was an independent relationship between gum disease and heart disease.
Waves of nausea, stomach aches, cramps, and diarrhoea are signs reported by women who have had a heart attack.
A sudden feeling of nausea or sickness to the stomach without having eaten anything suspicious (or anything at all) may be a a sign of heart distress because the digestive system could be receiving less blood.
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