Shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain and fatigue—with symptoms like these, you think you’d be able to tell if you had heart disease, right? Well, according to a recent study, half of people who have had a heart attack don’t even know that they’ve experienced one. So, while more than two-thirds of Americans admit to being concerned about heart disease, most don’t know how to actually boost their heart health.
There’s no doubt that eating a nutritious diet and getting regular exercise can go a long way in supporting heart health, but that’s only part of it. Knowing your heart’s numbers and sneaky signs of heart disease are important, too. For instance, blood pressure, cholesteroland blood sugar are all key indicators of good heart health.
Now that you know your key numbers, you’re ready to keep a watchful eye out for any symptoms of heart disease. This doesn’t just mean monitoring for the most well-known symptoms, though. You’ll want to pay close attention to sneaky symptoms of heart disease that may only become obvious in the comfort of your bedroom (behind closed doors).
Here are 6 subtle signs to watch for:
1. Hot flashes. It’s important to start off by noting that hot flashes can be the result of many things, like prescriptions, food allergies, anxiety, thyroid issues and of course—menopause. But when hot flashes, even those associated with menopause, begin at a younger age (under 45 years old) or they are very frequent (12+ hot flashes a day), this could be an early sign of heart disease.
2. Snoring. While it may seem like nothing more than a nuisance, snoring may actually be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. This is because snoringis caused by turbulent air flow, which is the result of either a blockage or a narrowing in the nose, mouth or throat. Consistent snoring could be a sign of interrupted breathing or sleep apnea, which is tied to heart disease.
3. Rapid heartbeat. When you’re in the midst of a stressful situation or mid exercise, a rapid heartbeat may not seem so out of place; however, if you experience heart palpitations while you’re relaxing or resting in bed, this could be a sign of an arrhythmia, which increases your risk of heart disease.
4. Exhaustion. Who doesn’t feel exhausted when it’s time for bed, right? While it’s normal to experience some level of fatigue after a long day, what’s not normal is feeling weakness, overtiredness and flu-level exhaustion. If your heart is struggling to oxygenate your body, this will leave you feeling exhausted, and may signal heart disease.
5. Intimacy issues. This symptom goes for both men and women. For women in particular, being intimate can cause exertional chest pain, which is brought on during activity. If you don’t regularly do activities that raise your heartrate, this symptom may otherwise go unnoticed. For men, erectile dysfunction may be actually be a sign of heart disease.
6. Stomach pain. You likely already know that pain felt in your chest, back or arms can be a sign of angina, which is caused by heart disease. But did you know that heart pain can actually radiate down into your stomach, too? While stomach pain is often the result of PMS, the flu or heartburn, if you experience it throughout the night, this may indicate something more.
Is this normal?
When it comes to spotting these subtle symptoms, it can be difficult to tell if heart disease is to blame, or if it’s related to something else entirely. The bottom line is, whether it’s heart disease or not, if you experience any of these symptoms and it’s abnormal for you, it’s time to see a doctor. As the specialist that knows you best, your primary care provider will be able to determine the cause behind any mystery symptoms.