Heart disease kills hundreds of thousands of people across the UK and US every year.
But you could be ignoring some of the key signs of poor heart health.
Feeling dizzy when you stand up quickly and swollen legs are just some of the symptoms you should never let go unchecked, experts say.
Dr Ameet Bakhai, a cardiologist at Spire Bushey Hospital in London, said people often ignore the signs ‘until it’s too late’.
And he revealed a healthy adult should be able to run up two flights of stairs, stand up quickly without dizziness, hold their breath for 20 seconds and squat on the toilet – providing they have no other health conditions.
Dr Ameet Bakhai, a cardiologist at Spire Bushey Hospital in London, said people often ignore the signs ‘until it’s too late’
But Dr Bakhai said many people think symptoms such as dizziness and leg swelling are caused by something else, so early signs of a struggling heart are missed.
He said things like heaviness in the arm on exertion, shortness of breath when walking up stairs and frequent, extra or missed heartbeats can be ‘your heart calling out for help’.
Some symptoms, such as difficulty bending down and standing up, could indicate that your heart is ‘not adapting to your positions or is holding spare fluid in the body’.
The consultant claims other symptoms you should never ignore include sweating with light exercise, nausea with chest ache and being tired on waking.
But of 2,000 adults quizzed, more than half (54 per cent) said they wouldn’t think these symptoms were heart-related, despite 50 per cent claiming to have experienced them.
The 10 heart health symptoms you shouldn’t ignore
- 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
Dr Bakhai, who has been advising Healthspan on its Love Your Heart supplement range, said: ‘Heart issues can often get progressively worse, until one day you have a more complicated issue – that could have been avoided if we heeded the warning signs.’
He added that looking after your heart is ‘essential’ and should be prioritised.
Despite the lack of awareness regarding symptoms, 68 per cent of people quizzed consider heart health ‘very important’ to them, rising to 80 per cent in those aged over 65.
Rob Hobson, a sports nutritionist with Healthspan, said this showed a contradiction between what people say and do regarding their health.
‘Millions know that 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,’ he added.
The survey also found 26 per cent of people didn’t class the symptoms as ‘serious’, while 17 per cent thought they were too young to suffer heart problems.
Dr Bakhai said: ‘Which 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).’
A 2021 NHS study found more than half of people hospitalised with Covid had suffered damage to their heart.
The heart injuries found included inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis), scarring or death of heart tissue (infarction), restricted blood supply to the heart (ischaemia) and combinations of all three, according to the London researchers.