Doctor shares ‘early signs’ of heart disease to spot – when to call 999

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Between an unhealthy diet and unlucky genes, many risk factors can lay the groundwork for heart disease.

Worryingly, the major killer claims around 160,000 lives each year in the UK alone, the British Heart Foundation reports.

Similarly to many other serious conditions, heart disease is easier to treat when it’s detected early, making symptom awareness front and centre.

Fortunately, medical advisor Dr David Nichols, from MyHealthChecked, has shared the “early” warning signs with

Nichols said: “One of the key signs of underlying heart disease is chest pain, which people often first notice when they are exerting themselves and relieves when they rest. 

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“People often describe a heaviness, pressure, or a tight band in their chest or describe the feeling that ‘someone is sitting on their chest’.”

Another key sign that can point to the major killer is breathlessness, which can also appear when you rest or sleep flat on your back.

Apart from your chest, another area of your body that could ring alarm bells is your legs.

The doctor said: “Swelling in your feet, ankles or legs may be a sign that the heart is not pumping properly.

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“Cramping in your legs and calves when walking may be a sign that your blood vessels are blocked.”

This could be pointing to cardiovascular problems caused by a build-up of high cholesterol for example.

Another warning sign could be feeling tired all the time, especially when your lifestyle hasn’t changed.

Furthermore, the doctor recommended looking out for fast or irregular heartbeat which could also signal a type of heart disease.

However, he explained there’s also a group of symptoms that might require urgent medical attention.

Nichols said: “Pain in your jaw, back or arms, sweating, stomach pain or indigestion alongside any episodes of chest pain must be taken seriously with patients calling 999 or attending their nearest emergency department.” 

While the other warning signs might not require calling 999, it’s still important to speak to a doctor, he added. 

“For those who present with a more gradual deterioration in their symptoms such as leg swelling, fatigue or breathlessness, I would advise arranging some initial tests which may include a blood pressure check and blood tests to check for things such as your cholesterol levels,” Nichols said.

MyHealthChecked at-home tests are available online and in-store at Boots.

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