This Morning: Dr Chris discusses heart disease
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Coronary heart disease is when the arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle are narrowed by a build-up of fatty material – a process known as atherosclerosis. When the blood supply to the heart is blocked, a heart attack occurs. During a heart attack, Johns Hopkins Medicine explained that muscle cells within the organ “start to die”. Within thirty minutes of the heart muscle being starved of oxygen, irreversible damage can take place.
Do you have coronary heart disease?
One warning sign of heart disease, according to WebMD, is having a “yellow-orange bumpy rash” on your fingers.
This is indicative of “extremely high triglyceride levels” that can cause a break-out around the knuckles.
“A lot of these fats in your blood may play a role in hardening your arteries,” explained WebMD.
The cholesterol charity Heart UK confirmed: “High triglyceride levels are known to contribute to our risk of developing heart and circulatory disease.”
Another potential indication of heart disease can be seen on your fingernails.
If you haven’t banged or bumped your fingers recently, but there’s a dark spot under the nails, it could be a warning sign of heart trouble.
“Little dots of blood trapped under your nail could point to an infection in the lining of your heart or valves, called endocarditis,” said WebMD.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) explained that endocarditis is when the inner lining of the heart chambers and valves become infected.
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This occurs when bacteria or fungi enter the bloodstream, attaching to already damaged areas of the heart.
Endocarditis can further damage your heart and can be life-threatening, the charity warned.
Other warning signs of endocarditis include:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Unexplained weight loss
- Pale skin
- Aching muscles and joints
- Heart murmurs.
WebMD added that “blue or grey fingers” could be indicative of issues with the heart.
Such discolouration could be the result of poor circulation of oxygen-rich blood.
This can be due to “narrowed our blocked blood vessels” – a trademark of heart disease.
“A lacy, mottled, purple pattern shows up when bits of built-up cholesterol plaques break off, then get stuck in small blood vessels,” WebMD noted.
“You might get bloody splotches just under the skin on the inside of your hands when you have endocarditis.”
What leads to coronary heart disease?
The Heart Foundation explained that when young, the coronary arteries usually have smooth healthy walls.
However, over time the coronary arteries come under attack from different risk factors such as:
- Toxins from cigarette smoke
- Mechanical injury from high blood pressure
- Injury from high cholesterol or blood sugar
- A diet high in saturated fats and sugars
- Lack of exercise.
“These injuries start a chain of events that lead to the build-up of fatty streaks in your coronary arteries,” the charity explained.
The best way to minimise your risk of a heart attack is to eat healthily, exercise, not smoke, and keep blood pressure and blood glucose under control.
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