The little-known sign of killer heart disease you might spot in your feet – and 5 other red-flags | The SunNovember 4, 2023
WE tend to associate heart problems with pain in the chest.
But heart disease can make itself know in a number of different ways and locations – including your feet.
If you notice swelling in your ankles and legs, it's definitely worth getting seen by a doctor, according to the NHS.
That's because this symptom could be a sign that you're suffering from heart failure.
Called oedema, the swelling in your legs is called by a build-up of fluid. You might notice that it's better in morning but gets worse during the day.
Heart failure means your heart isn't working as well as it should and needs medicine to help it work better, according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
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When this happens, blood doesn't get pumped to your kidneys properly, so these organs retain salt and water.
"This extra fluid in your body can cause swelling in your ankles, feet or legs and sometimes in your tummy area," the charity warned.
This build-up in fluid can also be behind other symptoms that you can experience if you're suffering from heart failure.
The extra fluid can also cause sudden weight gain, according to the BHF.
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And if the build-up of fluid backs up into the lungs, this causes breathlessness, it added.
Fatigue, difficulty exercising and feelings of lightheartedness are also typical symptoms of heart failure, according to the NHS.
But less common signs are:
- a persistent cough, which may be worse at night
- a bloated tummy
- loss of appetite
- weight gain or weight loss
- a fast heart rate
- a pounding, fluttering or irregular heartbeat
There are a few other symptoms that could indicate you're suffering from heart disease, which might surprise you.
1. Feeling sick
All of us feel sick from time to time, and it's definitely not always an indication that something's wrong with your heart.
But you should be worried if you feel nauseous while also experiencing pain in your chest.
This is how David Newby,a professor of cardiology at the BHF Centre of Research Excellence at the University of Edinburgh, put it: “If you experience intense chest pain even when you are just sitting around doing nothing and you are also feeling sick, that is the time to call for an ambulance.”
It's also worth calling NHS 111 for advice if you're feeling discomfort in your chest as well as feeling sick.
An indigestion-type pain or a burning sensation in your chest or stomach can be a sign of a heart attack or related heart problem, Dr Newby said.
2. Leg pain
We all get leg cramps from time to time.
But Dr Newby advised seeing a doctor if you get a "gripping, cramping sensation in your calves when you are walking".
He said this might be a symptom of peripheral arterial disease, a common condition where a build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries restricts blood supply to leg muscles.
4. Arm pain
Arm pain can be another unlikely symptom that something is wrong with your heart.
Heart attacks often cause pain to radiate down your left arm, but it could also affect both arms.
Have someone call 999 immediately if you suspect you're having a heart attack.
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5. Jaw and back pain
Jaw and back pain are other symptoms that could be caused by a heart attack, according to Dr Newby.
Get immediate help if the pain isn't going away.
Symptoms of a heart attack
A heart attack is caused by blood supply to the heart being suddenly interrupted. Symptoms can include:
- chest pain – a feeling of pressure, heaviness, tightness or squeezing across your chest
- pain in other parts of the body – it can feel as if the pain is spreading from your chest to your arms (usually the left arm, but it can affect both arms), jaw, neck, back and tummy
- feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- shortness of breath
- feeling sick or being sick
- an overwhelming feeling of anxiety (similar to a panic attack)
- coughing or wheezing
The chest pain is often severe, but some people may only experience minor pain, similar to indigestion, according to the NHS.
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