Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Portsmouth, NH
According to the American Heart Association, half of all people who are diagnosed with congestive heart failure never live more than five years past their diagnosis. This makes heart disease a very scary and serious condition. More troubling, however, is that heart disease, on the whole, is largely preventable.
Early detection and lifestyle modification are key.
Congestive Heart Failure and Heart Disease Risk Factors
These are the leading contributors to developing some form of heart disease whether it be congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease or even a heart attack.
- Lack of exercise
- Poor diet, including high sodium
- High Cholesterol
- Age: with age comes physiological changes in myocardial tissue increasing the risk of heart disease
- Men have a greater risk of developing some form of heart disease, however once women hit menopause the odds even out and both genders are at risk.
- A family history of heart disease is a major contributing factor to developing cardiovascular issues.
Other Signs and Symptoms of Heart Disease
While the well-known signs of chest pain, arm numbness, and difficulty breathing are hallmarks of severe cardiovascular issues-and warrant immediate medical attention-here are some overlooked signs that may help you detect heart failure early:
- Clubbing: This is not hitting the town, partying at the latest after-hours hotspot. Clubbing refers to a gradual malformation of the nailbeds on fingers and toes, typically the thumb and forefinger first. Look at where your nails meet your finger near the cuticle. From a side profile, the angle where the nail meets the finger should be about 180-degrees, or straight across. However, if the angle is greater than 180-degrees, this can be a sign of impending heart failure (or pulmonary issues as well). From the side profile again, if-between your knuckle and tip if your finger-the area where your nail connects is elevated, forming a rounded mound of sorts, this is clubbing.
- Hypertrophic osteoarthropathy: If you feel pain and burning in your extremities (lower legs, fingers, toes, hands, and arms) which is typically worse at night, hypertrophic osteoarthropathy may signal the onset of heart disease and eventual heart attack.
- Peripheral edema: This is the swelling of feet and lower legs/ankles. Fluid retention could be a result of poor circulation, caused from a decrease in efficiency of heart function.
- Baldness: Male pattern baldness (baldness that originates at the crown) has been connected to heart failure.
- Xanthomas: If you have yellowish spots under your skin, including your elbows, legs and arms, these fat deposits known as xanthomas could be a result of heart issues and cardiovascular disease.
- Gum disease: While the mouth is a long way from the heart, gum disease, and gum bleeding are often signs of cardiovascular risk and diminishing heart health.
- Tissue edema with weight gain: Weight gain as a result of fluid retention and swelling can be a major red flag, signaling cardiovascular disease.
- Cataracts: As a result of atrial inefficiency to the eye, cataracts may form due to an underlying heart disease like congestive heart failure.
- A night cough: If you have a cough that worsens at night, especially when lying down flat, this could be a sign of heart failure as well.
- Frequent urination: Decreased blood flow, especially the kidneys will reduce their operating efficiency, resulting in your need to urinate more frequently.
Official Tests to Determine Heart Failure
While the signs and symptoms listed above can help with early detection, official medical tests will still be required to confirm a diagnosis of heart issues and determine their severity. An EKG, blood test, stress test, echo, chest X-ray, and an angiogram all have a use in diagnosing cardiovascular system issues.
However, before you reach the diagnosing stage-as the adage goes-an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s never too late to improve your heart health, even if you’ve been diagnosed with a condition like congestive heart failure. It’s best to check with your doctor first about the right treatment methods for you, but lifestyle changes, diet improvement, and exercise can make a significant impact on your cardiovascular health.
Regardless of the treatment option, you decide to choose, if you’ve been diagnosed with a heart condition or simply want to prevent a future one, doing something today is the first step.
Request more information about cardiovascular risk factors today. Call (207) 536-9661 or contact Dr. Nicole Schertell online.
Vibrant Health Naturopathic Medical Center
Address501 Islington St
Portsmouth, NH 03801
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tue: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Wed: 10:30 am - 5:00 pm
Thu: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Fri: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm