Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, more than any type of cancer or other chronic disease. According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), around 18.3 million people died in the world in 2017 as a result of cardiovascular diseases and it is estimated that, by 2030, the figure will reach 23 million deaths per year.
It is true that many heart diseases are the product of a bad diet, a sedentary lifestyle, environmental pollution or smoking, among others. However, one of the reasons why this health problem leaves so many deaths in the world is because people do not know the warning signs or symptoms and take a long time to seek professional help to prevent the worst consequences. Most symptoms of heart problems are not severe and can be confused with signs of other diseases.
It's a good idea to see a cardiologist after you turn 45, even if you feel in good health and, especially, if your blood pressure and cholesterol are high, or a family member has had a heart attack before turning 50.
Although the heart is one of the most important organs of our body, few people consider a visit to the cardiologist during the year. Patients usually go to the cardiologist when there is already an established pathology or threat of a complication, which often limits the life expectancy of the patient. The initial consultation will let you know how your cardiovascular health is and it will usually be of preventive nature.
It is not advisable to reach 60 years without having consulted a cardiologist; remember that cardiovascular risk begins to rise after 40 years in men and during menopause in women.
Taking into account that early diagnosis and treatment will improve the patient's prognosis, it is very important to pay attention to the following symptoms since they could indicate the existence of heart disease.
The sensation of chest discomfort is a signal to go to the doctor. This symptom can be noticed after physical exercise and sometimes extends to the arms and neck, in which case you should pay even more attention.
Dyspnea (respiratory distress) can appear when going up or down stairs, during exercise or even in everyday situations. Although this can be related to respiratory diseases, it can also be due to problems in the heart, since what happens is that it is unable to pump enough blood to supply oxygen to the body.
Palpitations correspond to a very common symptom that appears in heart diseases, this can occur physiologically after performing an intense physical activity, however when palpitations are triggered at rest they usually indicate an underlying cardiac alteration.
The increase in volume (edema) of the lower limbs is a sign to be taken into account since it can be the product of established heart failure, this edema is usually soft and appears at the end of the day, and often the extremities are cold.
In cases of headache associated with respiratory distress or fatigue, you should pay attention and schedule an appointment with a cardiologist because this may indicate that you have high blood pressure, which means that the heart is overstressed in each contraction.
The blue coloration (cyanosis) of the extremities or the perioral region indicates that there is little oxygen supply to the tissues, which is frequently related to cardiovascular diseases.
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- National Institutes of Health NH, Lung, and Blood Institute. 2012 NHLBI Morbidity and Mortality Chart Book on Cardiovascular, Lung, and Blood Diseases. Bethesda; 2012.