The heart, such a diligent laborer in your body, goes about its business without exhibiting many signs to the outside world; at its best, it functions effortlessly. Sadly, it’s often not until one goes into cardiac arrest that he or she experiences heart trouble, and recognizes something’s awry. According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both women and men in the United States with 1 in every 4 deaths attributed to this condition.
Luckily, there are some subtle indicators of heart disease that could help you catch the condition before suffering from a heart attack.
It sounds a bit strange, but according to researchers from the Department of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, distinctive creases in your earlobe might actually indicate current, or future, heart complications. Called Frank’s sign, these creases have been found to associate with an increased risk of atherosclerosis, a disease where plaque builds up in your arteries. It’s a subtle but useful warning sign that you might experience cardiovascular issues in the near future.
“Xanthomas” or fatty bumps
Check your elbows, knees, buttocks and eyelids: Do you notice any yellow, fatty bumps breaking the surface? While these bumps, known as xanthomas, are harmless on their own, they indicate a buildup of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or “bad cholesterol.” When this cholesterol is found in high levels, it is deposited to both the skin and also within the arteries that supply the heart. If you notice these bumps, it might be a silent signal that you’re experiencing some cardiovascular issues.
This is another weird one. Digital clubbing, a condition where the fingernails become thicker and wider due to excess tissue being produced, might signal that something’s off with your heart health. If you notice a change in shape in your fingernails, usually in both hands, it is recommended you get checked for heart complications.
Ring around the iris
When you look at your eyes in the mirror, do you see a grey halo around your irises or the colored part of your eyes? You might be seeing fat deposits, associated with risk factors for heart disease. Even if it is painless and doesn’t affect your vision, it is a telltale external indicator of a cardiovascular issue and should prompt a screening.
Nobody likes foul breath. But in this case, it might point to something worse than faulty oral hygiene. According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, rotten gums and loose teeth can indicate inflammation in the blood vessels and are common signs of heart complications.
Do your lips have a bluish tint rather than a rosy one? If so, it might be a sign that your heart isn’t successfully delivering oxygenated blood to your tissues. If your lips don’t regain its color after a few moments, and if you experience any of the other symptoms listed, you should schedule a checkup. Don’t wait until the last minute; by staying informed, and taking action accordingly, you might just be saving your life.