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Heart symptoms you should never ignore – from sweating during light exercise to waking up tired

A cardiologist has revealed the top 10 heart symptoms we should be looking out for. (Getty Images)
A cardiologist has revealed the top 10 heart symptoms we should be looking out for. (Getty Images)

You might think you'd be able to spot the symptoms if your heart wasn't quite working as it should, but turns out there are some other, less obvious, signs your ticker could be in trouble and experts say you should never ignore them.

A leading cardiologist has revealed the top 10 heart symptoms you should be alert to including sweating during even light exercise, nausea with chest ache, and being tired on waking up in the morning.

Dr Ameet Bakhai, a consultant cardiologist at Spire Bushey Hospital, shared some other signs that could indicate your heart is in less than tip-top condition, including heaviness in the arm on exertion, shortness of breath walking up stairs, and frequent extra or missed heartbeats.

Difficulty bending down and standing up, feeling dizzy when standing up quickly, and swollen legs are also indicators that your heart may need attention.

But research of 2,000 adults found more than half (54%) of those surveyed wouldn’t associate most of these symptoms with poor heart health.

And half have suffered at least one of these symptoms before.

As well as the potential heart symptoms we should be looking out for, Dr Bakhai also shared some other indicators your heart may be struggling including not being able to run up two flights of stairs without getting out of breath and – randomly, not being able to squat on a toilet.

Of course, that's providing you have no other health conditions.

Read more: Young mums are more likely to develop heart disease, major study finds

Waking up tired is another potential sign your heart may not be functioning as it should. (Getty Images)
Waking up tired is another potential sign your heart may not be functioning as it should. (Getty Images)

Similarly, a healthy adult should be able to hold their breath comfortably for 20 seconds.

“We often ignore our heart health and its signals until it’s too late," explains Dr Bakhai, who has been advising Healthspan's Love Your Heart supplement range, which commissioned the research.

"There’s no annual MOT to be passed for most of us, so we ignore the small signals that our own engine is not performing ideally.

“Heart issues can often get progressively worse, until one day you have a more complicated issue – that could have been avoided if you'd heeded the warning signs."

Dr Bakhai goes on to say that heart issues can be connected to other health conditions.

“You might consider not being able to run up two flights of stairs more of a lung condition or a lack of fitness or of weight gain, but there is a lot of overlap with coronary artery disease or heart valve problems or irregular heart rhythms," he explains.

“So, looking after your heart health is essential and should be planned as a new year resolution every year.”

Watch: Break these eating habits to take good care of your heart

The study also revealed one in five adults have reported feeling dizzy after standing up too quickly, while 11% have experienced chest tightness.

But a third believe those kind of symptoms could be caused by another of different things, while over a quarter (26%) just didn’t see them as "serious".

As such, just under a fifth (17%) didn’t raise the issues with anyone because they didn’t want to be seen as melodramatic.

And 13% believe themselves simply too young to have heart issues.

“This is a misunderstanding as heart disease can affect people of all ages," explains Dr Bakhai. "This is particularly true in the post-COVID era, 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).

"Warning signs like chest tightness, aches in your arms or jaw, dizziness on standing, breathlessness with bending down should act as a wake-up call that your heart is calling out for help."

Read more: Replacing meat and dairy with vegan alternatives cuts risk of heart disease by third, study finds

Dr Bakhai is now calling for people to become more heart-aware, particularly as almost three-quarters of those polled (72%) have never seen a medical professional about potential heart conditions.

That's despite 68% of all adults claiming they consider heart health "very important" to them, a figure which rises to 80% in those aged over 65.

When it comes to trying to live a healthy lifestyle, 42% admit they don’t always have the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables.

Over a third (37%) don’t get enough sleep, 35% confess to eating junk food on occasion, and 14% are current cigarettes smokers.

Dizziness is another potential sign your heart could be struggling to function. (Getty Images)
Dizziness is another potential sign your heart could be struggling to function. (Getty Images)

As a result, over half admit they need to do more to keep their hearts in tip-top condition.

“The results show a bit of a contradiction between what people do, and what they’re doing for their heart health," explains Rob Hobson, registered and sports nutritionist with Healthspan.

"Millions know 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."

But there are some simple switch-ups people can make to help improve their heart health.

"Simple dietary changes and supporting dietary gaps with heart specific supplements, can all make a difference over time," Hobson adds.

Read more: Daily bath linked to lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, study finds

10 heart health symptoms Brits have had and not always investigated

1. Dizziness on standing up quickly
2. Shortness of breath
3. Difficulty bending down
4. Palpitations
5. Tightness of the chest
6. Arm pain – neck or upper arms often the left
7. Difficulty standing up
8. Chest discomfort (excluding tightness)
9. Swollen legs
10. Frequent extra or skipped heartbeats

Additional reporting SWNS.