LESS DIRECT SIGNS OF HEART PROBLEMS
Some problems may or may not have clear links to heart disease but are worth a heart checkup, especially if you have other risk factors for heart disease.
Sleep apnea. This temporary collapse of an airway puts a halt to breathing during sleep and has been linked to high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart attack.
Trouble achieving or maintaining an erection. Though men often don’t connect bedroom problems to the heart, erectile dysfunction can be a very early sign of the arterial damage of heart disease. “A problem with your blood vessels in one area of the body is associated with blood vessel problems in another area,” says Joshi.
Cramping, aching or numbness in the calves when you walk. This kind of leg pain, which is felt when you exercise and stops when you stop, can be
a sign of peripheral vascular disease (PVD), a circulation disorder. People with PVD often have atherosclerosis, the buildup of damaging plaque in the arteries.
Arteries (are-te-rease): The blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood away from your heart for delivery to every part of your body. Arteries look like thin tubes or hoses. The walls are made of a tough outer layer, a middle layer of muscle and a smooth inner wall that helps blood flow easily. The muscle layer expands and contracts to help blood move.
Blood vessels (veh-suls): The system of flexible tubes—arteries, capillaries and veins—that carries blood through the body. Oxygen and nutrients are delivered by arteries to tiny, thin-walled capillaries that feed them to cells and pick up waste material, including carbon dioxide. Capillaries pass the waste to veins, which take the blood back to the heart and lungs, where carbon dioxide is let out through your breath as you exhale.
Risk factor: Anything that boosts your chances of getting a disease. For example, smoking is a risk factor for cancer, and obesity is a risk factor for diabetes.
Sleep apnea (ap-ne-ah): A disorder in which your breathing repeatedly stops or becomes very shallow as you sleep. Your breathing may pause anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. This ongoing condition disrupts your sleep, making you tired during the day and increasing your risk for heart problems, diabetes, obesity and driving or work-related accidents.