9 signs of heart problems to be aware of

In the United States, about 630,000 deaths each year are attributed to heart disease. It's the leading cause of death in the country, affecting all genders and ethnic groups, but it does have a few key risk factors.
Those who smoke, have high blood pressure or have high cholesterol have the highest risk. About half of the U.S. population has these risks, but there are more, too. Those who drink alcohol excessively, are overweight, inactive, diabetic or have an unhealthy diet are also at higher risk for heart disease.
For these reasons, it's important to recognize signs of heart problems and get appropriate treatment before they get too serious. If you experience more than one of these nine signs, especially if you are 60 or older, see your doctor to be evaluated.
1. Fatigue
In today's hectic society, it's easy to say, “I'm just tired.” Excessive or sudden fatigue, however, can be a warning sign of coronary heart disease (damaged heart valves) or heart failure (a weak heart muscle). Getting easily fatigued during activity can also be a sign of a heart defect.
2. Angina
Angina is sometimes referred to as chest pain, but pain isn't always present. Instead, some people experience heaviness, pressure, squeezing, aching, fullness or burning sensations. These sensations may also occur in the arms, shoulders, neck or jaw instead of the chest. If angina symptoms occur for more than a few minutes, consult a doctor.
3. Palpitations
An irregular or rapid heart beat is not always a sign of heart problems. Sometimes it's caused by stress, anxiety or even too much caffeine. If these are not factors, however, or if you experience palpitations frequently or when you aren't engaging in any major activity, you should tell your doctor so you can be evaluated for heart problems. It could be a symptom of heart valve disease.
4. Snoring
Although snoring is a risk factor for heart disease, according to the University of Michigan, people who have congestive heart failure also have a tendency to have sleep apnea, a condition that causes snoring. Sleep apnea can make heart failure worse and can cause heart attacks, so if you snore, discuss it with your doctor.
5. Swelling
Swelling of legs, feet and ankles can indicate the heart isn't pumping blood efficiently, causing it to back up and accumulate in these extremities. Swelling can also be caused by the kidneys not working effectively, causing fluid buildup and bloating. This can be an indication of heart failure.
6. Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath that isn't caused by exercise may be a sign of heart failure, heart valve disease, arrhythmia, coronary artery disease or even heart defects.
7. Dizziness
Dizziness and fainting can be caused by heart failure, heart valve disease or heart muscle disease. Although it is normal to feel dizzy or lightheaded when you get up too fast, it can also signal that your heart isn't pumping blood correctly, causing a drop in blood pressure. If this feeling is accompanied by chest pain or shortness of breath, see your doctor right away.
8. Nausea
Nausea, vomiting, heartburn and indigestion are sometimes caused by a heart attack. This is especially common for women. If you experience these symptoms for no known reason, talk to your doctor.
9. Sweating
Sudden sweating for no reason can indicate a heart attack or coronary artery disease. If you experience sudden, unexplained sweating along with any of the other symptoms listed, call your doctor.

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