Signs of Heart Trouble
Recognising the signs and symptoms of heart trouble may be quite tricky. Many times, they’re mistaken for signs of aging or obesity.
People usually tend to ignore these signs until some kind of an emergency arises. Always keep in mind that waiting for the symptoms to subside and fade is never a good idea. Look out, especially, for prevalence of more than one symptom at the same time. On the occasion of this World Heart Day, let’s take a vow to not ignore the following major signs of heart trouble to lead a happy and heart healthy life.
Difficulty in breathing: especially while lying down or sleeping: If you experience a sense of chest compression making it difficult for you to take deep breaths, you should probably consult a physician or cardiologist. This difficulty in breathing especially occurs during exertion or while lying down – a major differentiating point from ailments like COPD or sleep apnea. Shortness of breath may also occur during the night time. When this occurs suddenly during the night, it is referred to as paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea. This difficulty in breathing occurs due to reduced pumping ability of the heart causing the return of the blood from the heart to the lungs.
Feeling of heaviness in chest or ‘drowning’: Often, people diagnosed with this condition complain of a feeling of chest heaviness or pressure. Usually, they express this as their heart being compressed by some kind of heavy weight or a sensation of drowning. Sometimes, people even complain of chest pain that comes with exertion and is relieved by rest. Angina or chest pain is due to the
heart cells not getting sufficient oxygen owing to the reduced blood flow to the heart muscles.
Feeling of tightness in clothes and shoes: In heart failure, due to the decreased pumping ability of the heart muscles, blood starts to back up forcing the fluid from the blood vessels into the body tissues. Heart failure, particularly the right heart failure is characterized by accumulation of fluid in the abdomen and the legs. Due to this, you may experience tightness in your clothes and shoes. Hence, if you notice a sudden increase in your body girth or roundness or puffiness in your neck and face; you should start taking extra care and consult a physician at the earliest.
Feeling tired or weak all the time: Do you feel tired or weak at all times, even after getting up in the morning? We advise you start taking this seriously and let your doctor know about this especially if this occurs on a regular basis. Sluggishness or continued fatigue may be the result of your body organs not getting enough oxygen due to heart failure.
Persistent cough or wheezing: Many times, people with congestive heart failure develop a chronic cough or wheezing due to the fluid accumulation in the lungs. Often, this is confused with lung conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This cough may worsen while lying down or getting up first from the bed. This cough may either be dry or may be associated with white sputum or thick mucus.
Lack of appetite: Another major sign of congestive heart failure is a feeling of fullness. This is due to the accumulation of fluid in your liver or digestive system. As a result, your appetite level reduces and you start eating smaller meals. This loss of appetite may also be due to exhaustion associated with heart failure where even the mere task of chewing becomes tiring.
Night time urination: Frequent urination during the night is another major sign of heart failure in individuals. This happens due to the transfer of fluid that accumulates during the day in your legs to your kidneys via the bloodstream. To avoid this, control your night time fluid intake or make use of diuretic in the morning.
Heart rhythm problems: In CHF, the heart starts beating at a faster rate in order to compensate for the reduced pumping power. You may sometimes experience irregular palpitations in your heart which feels like your heart is racing or throbbing.
Anxiety: This is one common indication or warning sign of heart failure that is often ignored by people. Manifested as fast breathing, rapids heart rate and sweaty palms; many individuals mistake
these signs as feelings of anxiety or stress. Hence, if you or your near ones feel nervous or agitated at all times, check out for the other signs of heart failure.
Unexplained change of habits and behaviour: Behavioural change is yet another vital symptom of heart failure. Any form of unexplained alterations in behaviour like reduced appetite, sleepless
nights or reduced activity level should trigger a warning bell in your mind. Hence, look out for such red flags in your daily life and alert your doctor the moment you notice them.
Source – Heart Failure on-line, World Heart Failure Organisation
Dealing with Smog and Heart Failure
We are lucky up in Lancashire where the Smog levels are not as intense as in more densely populated areas however due to the weather conditions we are still encountering smog.
This is what the government has said –
The UK government has issued a “smog alert” in England and Wales for ozone and polluting particles known as PM10s, which can affect people’s health. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said high levels of pollution were likely from Thursday and would continue over the Easter weekend.
It said the alert was due to warm and still conditions brought on by a high pressure system.Defra is urging the public to take “sensible precautions”.It said some people, including those who have asthma – and particularly the elderly – could be affected by the high pollution levels and may notice an impact on their breathing.
They advise people to avoid taking exercise outside in the afternoon if they are susceptible to the pollutants and not to take unnecessary short car journeys, to help reduce the amount of pollutants from exhausts. Defra said its freephone helpline – 0800 556677 – would give regular updates on the levels of particles, and also offer health advice to those who may be particularly sensitive to air pollution. Cher Piddock, an Asthma UK adviceline nurse, said the smog warning was a “timely reminder” that the combination of warm weather and pollution could pose health risks. “Around two-thirds of people with asthma say pollution triggers their condition, so Asthma UK recommends that people who have pollution as a trigger avoid going out if air quality is poor,” she said. This smog alert is a cause for concern but not for alarm. It’s the second highest of four threat levels and – no surprise – is triggered by a combination of high pressure, warm conditions and traffic pollution.
Among the pollutants are so-called PM10s – tiny particles ejected from exhaust pipes which, if inhaled, are known to exacerbate lung conditions. Most people shouldn’t experience any difficulties. But if you’ve got any kind of lung condition, like asthma, the advice is to be aware, avoid being out of doors for too long and turn to the inhaler if necessary. “We also recommend that people always carry their inhaler, avoid exercising outdoors on hot days, especially in the afternoon, and keep windows shut whenever possible.”
- High pollution levels affect those with lung diseases – including asthma
- Elderly people in particular could see their systems worsen
- The British Lung Foundation said anyone with a lung condition should carry their medication as a precaution
- Children with asthma can still take part in games, but might need to take their medication first. They do not need to stay away from school
- People with a heart condition, who are also at risk, should seek medical advice if their symptoms change
Source: Defra, Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation
Therefore some key messages here and I know you may not like it but here we go –
- Don’t stay in the Sun or heat for prolonged periods of time
- Don’t get dehydrated – use a spray bottle to control your fluids
- Don’t exercise in the heat – take a chill pill there are always other days for exercise or the evening, your health is more important than your garden
- Try to stay at home for the environment and your health
- Make sure you have enough of your medication to last over the long Easter Weekend – don’t forget the Royal Wedding Weekend as well
Hope this helps – just use your common sense and if your symptoms change or get worse then contact a clinician straight away.