Health & Environment

Surprising Signs Of An Unhealthy Heart

These seemingly ‘insignificant’ clues can point to big issues for your heart.
By Lauren Thompson, Texas A&M Health Science Center February 8, 2016

Heart on a CardiogramHeart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States—an equal opportunity killer that claims approximately 1 million lives annually. The heart and arteries comprise one of our bodies’ largest organ systems, and, when they begin to fail, symptoms may manifest in seemingly unrelated parts of the body. Texas A&M Health Science Center cardiologist, John P. Erwin, M.D., delves into a few surprising clues that can ultimately point to an unhealthy heart.

Sexual Problems

For males, erectile dysfunction is a common manifestation of arterial disease. The buildup of plaque in the arteries of the body is believed to be the reason erectile dysfunction precedes heart problems in men.

In females, a drop in libido often signals a post-menopausal state and women who are post-menopausal rapidly increase their risk factors for developing heart disease. While menopause doesn’t cause cardiovascular diseases, certain heart-health risks—like changes in blood pressure and cholesterol levels—begin around the time of menopause. Many women also develop a more sedentary lifestyle in this phase of their lives.

Snoring/Sleep Apnea

Snoring is a common sign of sleep apnea, as is morning sleepiness after a full night’s sleep. Sleep apnea (periods of time during sleep where you stop breathing) is associated with many physiological changes that increase the risk of both heart attack and stroke. It may also be a sign of atrial fibrillation (an irregular, often rapid heart rate that causes poor blood flow). Detection and treatment of sleep apnea has been proven to lower heart risks.

Sore, Swollen Or Bleeding Gums

Unhealthy gums can be a symptom of periodontitis (a serious gum infection that damages gums and can destroy the jawbone)—and this condition can lead to an increased inflammatory state throughout the entire body. We know that the over-activity of inflammatory pathways in our body can be a strong risk factor for the development of atherosclerotic (arterial) heart disease and heart attack. It is recommended people follow up regularly with their dentist for oral hygiene in addition to regular brushing and flossing.

Read more signs of an unhealthy heart on Vital Record.

This article by Lauren Thompson originally appeared in Vital Record.

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