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Know the warning signs so you can keep your heart health on track

It’s not always easy to tell what’s going on with your heart. And, heart problems don’t necessarily happen like they do in the movies, with someone suddenly clutching their chest.

Heart disease symptoms in men can be subtle, which is why knowing the warning signs is key, so you can get advice or treatment before a heart attack strikes.

In this article, we’ve outlined five warning signs you shouldn’t ignore – and some of them may not be what you’d expect.

It’s important to remember that symptoms may be different for everyone and may also be caused by other conditions, so please speak to your doctor if you have any concerns.

Heart disease in men: 5 signs of heart problems you shouldn’t ignore #menshealth Click To Tweet

 

1. Chest tightness or pain

Chest pain is the hallmark sign of a heart attack, but it can also be an early sign of heart disease.

Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, generally refers to conditions involving narrowed or blocked blood vessels, which can ultimately lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Angina is the pain or discomfort that occurs when your heart can’t get enough blood and oxygen through those narrowed blood vessels. It causes mild to severe pain or discomfort that usually feels like a tight, gripping or squeezing sensation.

If you have angina, you’re at higher risk of having a heart attack.

According to the Heart Foundation, people feel angina in many different ways:

  • You may feel angina in the centre of your chest.
  • It may spread to your back, neck or jaw. It may also spread to one or both shoulders, arms or hands.
  • You might feel it in other parts of your body but not in your chest.
  • You may not even have pain, but get an unpleasant feeling in your chest, or feel short of breath.

Reference: Heart Foundation

If you think you have angina, it’s important to see your doctor. There are treatments that can help relieve the symptoms, as well as manage the heart disease that causes them.

Chest pain is the hallmark sign of a heart attack, but can also signal #HeartDisease #Angina #MensHealth Click To Tweet

 

2. Snoring

It’s normal to snore a little while you sleep, but loud snoring or gasping can be a sign of a more serious problem that’s putting extra stress on your heart.

Sleep apnoea is a condition where you stop breathing for a few moments – sometimes at regular intervals – at night while you’re sleeping. Having sleep apnoea raises your risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

 If you’re constantly tired and find you’re not feeling refreshed in the morning despite a full night’s sleep, speak to your doctor about a sleep apnoea test. The best way to diagnose sleep apnoea is with an overnight sleep study.

Do you snore? It could be a sign of a more serious problem that’s putting extra stress on your heart #menshealth Click To Tweet

 

Shortness of breath during everyday activities could be a sign of heart disease

3. Shortness of breath

Shortness of breath (also known as dyspnoea) is often linked to heart conditions because your heart needs to pump blood effectively for you to breathe.

As well as conditions affecting the heart muscle, shortness of breath has been linked to heart rhythm problems, heart failure, and pericarditis – when tissue around the heart becomes inflamed.

Although you can feel short of breath after intense exercise, at high altitude, or if you go through major temperature changes – if you feel short of breath during everyday activities, you should discuss this with your doctor.

Short of breath? Your breathing and your heart’s ability to pump blood effectively are closely related #heartproblems #menshealth Click To Tweet

 

4. Pain or swelling in the legs

Swelling or oedema in your lower legs can be another sign that your heart isn’t pumping as well as it should.

When your heart can’t pump fast enough, your blood flow slows and backs up in the veins of your legs, causing bloating or fluid build-up.

What’s more, if you have heart disease, the blood vessels that bring blood to other parts of your body – like your legs – may become narrower. This can happen when cholesterol and other fatty material builds up on the walls of your arteries.

Poor blood supply to the legs can lead to pain or discomfort in the muscles of your feet, calves or thighs, especially during exercise. You may also feel numbness in your legs or feet.

Leg swelling can be a sign of #HeartDisease. Have you had a heart check? #menshealth Click To Tweet

 

5. Erectile dysfunction or impotence

Erectile dysfunction or impotence can be a warning sign of heart disease in men because it indicates problems with blood vessels and poor blood flow.

Australian research has found that men with erectile dysfunction have a higher risk of being admitted to hospital with heart disease, even if they have no history of heart problems.

According to the Heart Foundation, erection difficulties are mainly caused by blockages in the small arteries that supply blood to the penis. This is a good indicator of what’s happening in other larger arteries in the body, like those that supply the heart.

“This is the ‘canary in the trousers’ for men across the country – if you have erection issues, it’s a warning that you may also have issues with your heart.”

Dr Robert Grenfell, former Cardiovascular Health Director, Heart Foundation

Erectile dysfunction can be an early warning sign of heart problems #menshealth Click To Tweet

You can check your heart health with an at home cholesterol blood test

Check in with your heart health

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in Australia, but it’s often misunderstood.

If you’re a man over 45, it’s important to have regular heart health checks.

Your doctor may order a cholesterol test as part of your heart health check, because high cholesterol is a key risk factor for heart disease.

This can be done at a pathology collection centre, or you can check your total cholesterol from the comfort of your home with just a fingerprick.

The MyHealthTest service also allows you to monitor your results over time and share these with your healthcare provider via our secure website.

It’s an easy and convenient way to access blood tests so you can work with your doctor to manage your health and wellbeing.

Over to you. Are you due for a heart health check?

 

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