A leading cardiologist has revealed the top 10 heart symptoms you should never ignore – including sweating with light exercise, nausea with chest ache, and being tired on waking.
Dr Ameet Bakhai, a consultant cardiologist at Spire Bushey Hospital, revealed other signs that could indicate your heart is in less than tip-top condition, including heaviness in the arm on exertion, shortness of breath walking up stairs, and frequent extra or missed heartbeats.
Difficulty bending down and standing up, feeling dizzy when standing up quickly, and swollen legs are also indicators that your heart is not adapting to your positions or is holding spare fluid in the body and needs attention.
But research of 2,000 adults found 54 per cent wouldn’t associate most of these symptoms with poor heart health. And half have suffered at least one of these symptoms before.
Dr Ameet Bakhai, who has a special interest in research into how lifestyle factors can impact cardiac health and how we can prevent this, also revealed an adult with a healthy heart should be able to run up two flights of stairs without getting out of breath and squat on a toilet, providing they have no other health conditions.
Similarly, a healthy adult should be able to hold their breath comfortably for 20 seconds.
Dr Ameet, who has been advising Healthspan’s Love Your Heart supplement range, which commissioned the research, said: “We often ignore our heart health and its signals until it’s too late.
“There’s no annual MOT to be passed for most of us, so we ignore the small signals that our own engine is not performing ideally.
“Heart issues can often get progressively worse, until one day you have a more complicated issue – that could have been avoided if you’d heeded the warning signs.
“Heart issues can be connected to other things – you might consider not being able to run up two flights of stairs more of a lung condition or a lack of fitness or of weight gain, but there is a lot of overlap with coronary artery disease or heart valve problems or irregular heart rhythms.
“So, looking after your heart health is essential and should be planned as a new year resolution every year.”
The public study also found one in five adults have reported feeling dizzy after standing up too quickly, while 11 per cent have experienced chest tightness. But a third think such symptoms could be from a number of different things, while 26 per cent just didn’t see them as ‘serious’.
Worryingly, 17 per cent didn’t raise these issues with other people because they didn’t want to be seen as melodramatic.
And 13 per cent consider themselves simply too young to have heart issues.
Pay attention to the signs
But Dr Bakhai added: “This is sadly a misunderstanding as heart disease can affect people of all ages, particularly in the era of Covid and beyond as the virus can attack the heart and the heart lining quite commonly as a condition called myopericarditis (inflamed heart and heart covering – the pericardium).
“Warning signs like chest tightness, aches in your arms or jaw, dizziness on standing, breathlessness with bending down should act like a wake-up call that your heart is calling out for help.
“Becoming heart aware is vital and more than half of those in the survey were not aware that if they partner had suffered a cardiac episode in the last five years it was highly likely that their risk factors are also increased due to parallel lifestyles.”
A quarter of those polled said they had medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, while 20 per cent said they had high cholesterol.
It also emerged 72 per cent have never seen a medical professional about heart conditions.
Despite this, 68 per cent of all adults consider heart health ‘very important’ to them – rising to 80 per cent of those aged over 65.
When it comes to overall health, 42 per cent admitted they have days where they don’t get the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables.
While 37 per cent don’t get enough sleep, 35 per cent confess to eating junk food on occasion, and 14 per cent are current cigarettes smokers.
As a result, 51 per cent admit they need to do more to keep their hearts in tip-top condition, according to the OnePoll figures.
Rob Hobson, registered and sports nutritionist with Healthspan, said: “These results show a bit of a contradiction between what people do, and what they’re doing for their heart health.
“Millions know heart health is vitally important yet ignore warning signs and do heart-unfriendly things like eating junk food, smoking and the survey showed people are trying to make changes but there is a clear lack of knowledge.
“Simple dietary changes and supporting dietary gaps with heart-specific supplements, such as Love Your Heart, can all make a difference over time, and over half of those asked are conscious they need to keep their heart healthy but knew little about what supplements to take to help them.”
10 heart health symptoms Brits have had – and not always investigated
- Dizziness on standing up quickly
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty bending down
- Tightness of the chest
- Arm pain – neck or upper arms often the left
- Difficulty standing up
- Chest discomfort (excluding tightness)
- Swollen legs
- Frequent extra or skipped heartbeats