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Medical Conditions A - Z

6 Signs of an Unhealthy Heart

When talking about an unhealthy heart or heart problems, the first symptom that comes to mind may be chest pain. But do you know there are other subtle warning signs that indicate an unhealthy heart? Here are six of them:

Swollen and Bleeding Gums

Even though swollen or bleeding gums are typical symptoms of periodontal disease, they are also linked to other conditions, such as heart disease. “Patients with gum disease have two to three times the chance of developing a heart attack or stroke,” said Dr Edgar Kieu, Deputy Director, Raffles Dental. “Some bacteria from the gums have been shown to migrate to the heart, causing inflammation of the arteries.”

While good oral health don’t prevent heart disease, taking good care of your gums and teeth is still important. Brush and floss your teeth at least twice daily, as well as schedule regular visits with your dentist.

Fatigue or Sudden Exhaustion

Constantly finding certain physical activities more strenuous than usual may be a sign of an unhealthy heart. “Feeling constantly fatigued may mean your heart is not pumping enough blood throughout your body”, said Dr Teo Swee Guan, Specialist in Cardiology & Consultant, Raffles Heart Centre. “This may be due to clogged arteries or weak heart function. In some cases, it may even be an indication of an impending heart attack.”

Sometimes, your exhaustion may simply be caused by overwork or stress instead, which can be easily remedied with a good night’s sleep. As long as you feel energised most of the time, your heart is probably pumping enough blood to keep your body moving.

Check out some tips to help you sleep better at night.

Lack of Sexual Libido (For Men)

For men, having trouble keeping an erection may not be just a problem down there.Research has shown that erectile dysfunction may also be an early warning sign of heart disease. For an erection to happen, extra blood must flow to your penis and cause its blood vessels to swell. Any interruption to the blood flow, such as clogged or hardened arteries, will make an erection difficult to maintain. 

The blood vessel in your penis are also susceptible to clogging, which leads to erectile dysfunction. So, if you’re having difficulty performing in bed, it may not be a purely sexual issue.

Snoring During Sleep

Sleep apnoea – a condition where your airways become blocked and the muscles that control breathing stop moving – not only disrupts your sleep quality, research shows you will be at a higher risk of heart disease.

“People with sleep apnoea tend to stop breathing many times each night, causing their blood oxygen level to drop,” said Dr Teo. “When this happens, your risks of abnormal heart rhythm and heart disease increase.”

Swollen Feet

If you feel your shoes are getting more difficult to fit into, or your limbs are noticeably puffy, you may be suffering from fluid retention, which is a sign of heart disease or a weakening heart. A weakened heart loses its ability to pump blood throughout your body effectively, causing blood to back up in your limbs.

Heart Palpitations

Feeling your heart beating faster than usual during stressful situations is normal. But what if it happens even when sedentary? For most people, it is caused by lack of sleep, drinking too much caffeine, or a panic attack.

In rare cases, though, a condition called atrial fibrillation may be the culprit. This condition occurs when the electrical impulses that regulate your heartbeat don’t work properly, causing your heart to beat irregularly.  People may feel like their hearts are beating too fast, too slowly, or pounding too hard, even at rest.

Should You Panic?

The good thing is, many other (less serious) conditions share the same symptoms as heart disease  and unhealthy heart. If you experience these symptoms, confirm them with a doctor to avoid unnecessary stress or anxiety.

If you think you are at risk of heart disease, it doesn’t hurt to have your heart checked. Such packages contain tests that specifically evaluates your risk of heart diseases. You should lead a healthy lifestyle, and include healthy oils such as omega-3 into your diet.