You probably know that the classic signs of heart disease…
They are chest pain and shortness of breath when you exert yourself.
Other common symptoms include pain, numbness, or weakness in your legs, arms, upper abdomen, back, or neck.i
But there are other, lesser-known signs of cardiac problems that you might never associate with heart disease. It’s important to be aware of them because heart disease remains America’s number one killer.
Some 655,000 people in the U.S. die of it every year. That’s one in every four deaths.ii
7 Weird Signs of Heart Disease
- Halos around your irises A gray ring that develops around the outside of the irises, the colored part of the eye, is caused by fatty deposits. While they won’t interfere with vision, studies have found they are associated with heart disease. Iris halos are more common in men than women, and they usually don’t show up until after age 40.iii
- Yawning during exercise Don’t worry if you have an occasional yawn while working out. But non-stop yawning is a different matter. A study from State University of New York, Albany found that continual yawning during exercise could signal that your body’s cooling mechanism is not working properly. This suggests a heart or circulatory issue.
- Creased earlobes Over 40 studies have found an association between diagonal creases on the earlobes and an increased risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). The condition is called “Frank’s Sign” after Dr. Sanders Frank. He first noticed the link in 1973. It is not known why earlobe creasing signals atherosclerosis.
- Fatty skin bumps Yellow fatty bumps on the elbows, knees, buttocks, or eyelids can indicate a genetic condition called familial hypercholesterolemia. It causes exceptionally high levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol. In fact, patients with the condition have so much LDL that it gets deposited in their skin. It means that LDL is also potentially clogging their arteries.iv
- Clubbed fingernails This is when nails change shape and become thicker and wider than the rest of the finger. It occurs simultaneously on both hands.v Clubbed nails indicate that oxygenated blood is not reaching the finger tips effectively. This causes the cells on the tips of the fingers to secrete growth hormones in an attempt to survive.vi
- Chronic bad breath If you have bad breath that doesn’t go away with brushing or mouthwash, your heart might be in trouble, according to research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Your bad breath could be caused by gum disease. It promotes inflammation which can make its way to your heart. Researchers have found that gum disease doubles your chances for heart disease.vii viii
- Blue lips Your lips should be red or pink. If they take on a bluish or gray color that means your cardiovascular system is not delivering enough oxygen to the tissues. If blue lips are accompanied by any of the following, call 911 immediately:
- Breathing difficulties
- Chest pain
- Profuse sweating
- Headache or fever
High altitudes and extreme cold can also cause blue lips. But lips should regain their usual color when you warm up or return to a lower elevation.ix
If you are experiencing any of these seven symptoms, talk to your doctor. They may be caused by a benign condition. But when it comes to heart disease, it’s better to err on the side of caution.
Editor’s Note: One heart attack risk factor is 10 times more dangerous than cholesterol. But mainstream doctors don’t test for it. And statins actually make it worse.