In the West, where one in four dies of cardiovascular disease, it is hard to overstate the importance of keeping the heart in good condition. Unfortunately, many people have the first sign that their heart is not in good shape when they have a heart attack.
Although you do not see your heart beating in your chest – not without special imaging technology, least of all – there are visible, outward signs that can indicate if something is wrong with your heart before you commit to a life-changing or ending – "cardiovascular event".
. 1 Creased earlobe
One such external indicator is diagonal creases on the earlobes – known as Frank's Mark, named after Sanders Frank, an American physician who first described the sign. Studies have shown that there is an association with the visible outer crease on the earlobe and an increased risk of atherosclerosis, a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries
More than 40 studies have found an association between this feature of the ear and an increased risk of atherosclerosis. It is not clear what the cause of the association is, but some have postulated that it is a common embryonic origin. It has recently been observed that these wrinkles also play a role in cerebrovascular diseases – diseases of the blood vessels in the brain.
2. Oily Bumps
Another external indicator of heart problems is yellow, greasy bumps – known clinically as "xanthomas" – that can appear on elbows, knees, buttocks or eyelids. The bumps themselves are harmless, but they can be a sign of bigger problems.
Xanthomas are most commonly seen in people with a genetic disease called familial hypercholesterolemia. People with this condition have exceptionally high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol – so-called "bad cholesterol". The levels of this cholesterol are so high that they settle in the skin. Unfortunately, these fatty deposits are also deposited in arteries that feed the heart.
The mechanism that causes these fatty deposits in tissues is well known and he has an iconic place in medicine since he led to the development of one of the blockbuster groups of drugs that lower cholesterol: Statins
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3. Clubbed Fingernails
A phenomenon known as digital clubbing can also be a sign that everything is not good with your heart. Here, the fingernails change, becoming thicker and wider, because more tissue is produced. The change is usually painless and happens on both hands.
The reason this change shows heart problems is because oxygenated blood does not properly grip the fingers and so the cells produce a "factor" that promotes growth to remedy the problem.
Gaping the fingers is the oldest known medical symptom. It was first described by Hippocrates in the fifth century BC. Because of this, clubbed fingers are sometimes known as Hippocratic fingers.
4. Halo Around the Iris
Fat deposits can also be seen in the eye, as a gray ring around the outside of the iris, the stained part of the eye. This so-called "arcus senilis" begins at the top and bottom of the iris before it develops into a complete ring. It does not bother seeing.
About 45% of people over 40 have this greasy halo around their iris, which is up to 70% of people over 60 years old. The presence of this fat ring is known
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5. Rotten gums and loose teeth
The condition of your oral health can also be a good predictor of the state of your cardiovascular health. The mouth is full of good and bad bacteria. The "bad" bacteria can enter the bloodstream from the mouth and cause inflammation in the blood vessels, which can lead to cardiovascular disease.
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Studies have shown tooth loss and inflamed gums (periodontal disease) are markers of heart disease
6. Blue Lips
Another health indicator the mouth is the color of your lips. The lips are usually red, but can become bluish in people with heart problems (cyanosis), because the cardiovascular system does not transport oxygen-rich blood into the tissues.
Of course, people also get blue lips, they are extremely cold or at high altitude. In this case, blue lips are probably due to a temporary lack of oxygen and will dissolve pretty quickly.
In fact, the other five symptoms mentioned above may also have a benign cause. However, if you are worried or in doubt, you should consult your family doctor or other healthcare professional.
Adam Taylor is the director of the Clinical Anatomy Learning Center and a lecturer at Lancaster University.