LONDON — A leading cardiologist is revealing the top 10 heart symptoms you should never ignore — including sweating during light exercise, nausea with chest ache, and still feeling tired after waking up. Dr. Ameet Bakhai, a consultant cardiologist at Spire Bushey Hospital, says other signs that could indicate your heart is in less than tip-top condition includes heaviness in the arm after exertion, shortness of breath walking up stairs, and frequent extra or missed heartbeats.
Difficulty bending down and standing up, feeling dizzy when standing up quickly, and swollen legs are also indicators that your heart is not adapting to your positions or is holding spare fluid in the body and needs attention.
‘We often ignore our heart health and its signals until it’s too late’
However, a survey of 2,000 adults finds 54 percent wouldn’t associate most of these symptoms with poor heart health. Moreover, half say they’ve suffered at least one of these symptoms before.
Dr. Bakhai, who has a special interest in research into how lifestyle factors can impact cardiac health and how we can prevent this, also reveals that an adult with a healthy heart should be able to run up two flights of stairs and squat on a toilet without running out of breath, providing they have no other health conditions. Similarly, a healthy adult should be able to hold their breath comfortably for 20 seconds.
“We often ignore our heart health and its signals until it’s too late,” says Dr. Ameet, who has been advising Healthspan’s Love Your Heart supplement range, which commissioned the research, in a statement.
“There’s no annual MOT to be passed for most of us, so we ignore the small signals that our own engine is not performing ideally. Heart issues can often get progressively worse, until one day you have a more complicated issue – that could have been avoided if you’d heeded the warning signs,” the doctor continues.
“Heart issues can be connected to other things – you might consider not being able to run up two flights of stairs more of a lung condition or a lack of fitness or of weight gain, but there is a lot of overlap with coronary artery disease or heart valve problems or irregular heart rhythms. So, looking after your heart health is essential and should be planned as a new year resolution every year.”
Nearly 2 in 5 don’t want people to think of them as ‘melodramatic’
The public study also finds that one in five adults have reported feeling dizzy after standing up too quickly, while 11 percent have experienced chest tightness. However, a third think these symptoms could be from a number of different things, while 26 percent just don’t see them as “serious.”
Worryingly, 17 percent didn’t raise these issues with other people because they didn’t want to be seen as melodramatic. Another 13 percent consider themselves simply too young to have heart issues.
“This is sadly a misunderstanding as heart disease can affect people of all ages, particularly in the era of Covid and beyond, as the virus can attack the heart and the heart lining quite commonly as a condition called myopericarditis (inflamed heart and heart covering – the pericardium),” Dr. Bakhai adds.
“Warning signs like chest tightness, aches in your arms or jaw, dizziness on standing, breathlessness with bending down should act like a wake-up call that your heart is calling out for help.”
“Becoming heart aware is vital and more than half of those in the survey were not aware that if they partner had suffered a cardiac episode in the last five years it was highly likely that their risk factors are also increased due to parallel lifestyles.”
Half of adults need to do more for their heart health
A quarter of those in the survey say they have pre-existing medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, while 20 percent have high cholesterol. It also emerged that 72 percent have never seen a medical professional about heart conditions.
Despite this, 68 percent of all adults consider heart health “very important” to them — rising to 80 percent among those over 65 years of age. When it comes to overall health, 42 percent admit they have days where they don’t get the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables. Another 37 percent don’t get enough sleep, 35 percent eat junk food on occasion, and 14 percent are current cigarettes smokers.
As a result, 51 percent admit they need to do more to keep their hearts in tip-top condition, according to the OnePoll figures.
“These results show a bit of a contradiction between what people do, and what they’re doing for their heart health,” says Rob Hobson, a sports nutritionist with Healthspan.
“Millions know heart health is vitally important yet ignore warning signs and do heart-unfriendly things like eating junk food, smoking and the survey showed people are trying to make changes but there is a clear lack of knowledge.”
10 Heart Health Symptoms Adults Have Had – And Not Always Investigated:
- Dizziness on standing up quickly
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty bending down
- Tightness of the chest
- Arm pain – neck or upper arms often the left
- Difficulty standing up
- Chest discomfort (excluding tightness)
- Swollen legs
- Frequent extra or skipped heartbeats
72Point writer Gemma Francis contributed to this report.