Unexpected warning signs of heart disease

Heart disease is sometimes referred to as the “silent killer”. This disease has some obvious signs such as chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness and nausea. However, there are also less common symptoms that can be mistaken for problems health other. Ignoring these signs can lead to serious health consequences, even death.

Here are 4 warning signs that your heart is unstable that you should watch out for:

Jaw and neck pain

Cardiologist Edo Paz warns: “Typical heart attack symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, and sweating. However, jaw or neck pain can also be a sign of a heart attack or reduced blood flow to the heart, especially if the discomfort is worse with exertion and relieved with rest.”

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Dr. Bobbi Bogaev, medical director at Abiomed (USA) gives the example of a patient who recently suffered from jaw and neck pain while cycling. After a physical examination, he was diagnosed with damage to several heart vessels. It’s a helpful reminder for people not to ignore jaw or neck pain and to seek medical attention if they experience it.

Cramping, soreness or numbness in the calf

A surprising sign of heart problems is pain or discomfort in the calves.

Dr. Paz explains: “Cramps, soreness, or numbness in the calf when walking may be related to peripheral artery disease (PAD). This is a chronic condition in which the blood vessels that carry blood to the organs and limbs become blocked, resulting in decreased blood flow. Other symptoms of PAD include foot sores, slow hair growth, and changes in skin pigmentation.

Calf pain that occurs with exercise and resolves with rest is a classic symptom of peripheral artery disease. People with this condition often develop atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries), which disrupts blood flow to the legs and can lead to heart attack or stroke.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), nearly half of Americans with atherosclerosis don’t realize it’s a symptom of the disease. So, if you regularly experience cramping, pain, numbness or discomfort in your calves while walking, see your doctor for a heart checkup.

Problems in sex

Research shows that cardiovascular health can affect the sexual performance of both men and women, as sexual dysfunction is linked to blood flow problems. For men, erectile dysfunction (ED) can be an early sign of artery damage and heart disease.

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(Photo: Syda Productions/Shutterstock)

Erectile dysfunction is often caused by hardening of the arteries or endothelial dysfunction — a condition in which blood vessels cannot dilate and contract properly. This condition reduces blood flow to the penis and is linked to heart disease.

Heart disease that disrupts sexual function is not limited to men. According to a study from 2007, 87% of women with heart failure experienced symptoms of sexual dysfunction, including vaginal dryness, pain during intercourse, and low sex drive.


Halitosis can also be a warning sign of a heart problem. According to Dentistry IQ, people with gum disease are twice as likely to develop cardiovascular diseases such as hardening of the arteries, blood clots, heart attacks and strokes.

Bacteria that accumulate on the tongue, teeth and gums cause bad breath. This bacteria can then enter the bloodstream through bleeding gums or diseased gums, which are associated with artery blockages. The condition also causes inflammation of the blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart disease.

If you regularly experience the above symptoms, you should see your doctor for a timely diagnosis.

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