Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 17.3 million deaths every year! And this number is only expected to grow—to more than 23.6 million by 2030. () And sadly, it can be hard to spot. In far too many people, the first symptom is actually sudden death or a heart attack.
While it’s always best to know the documented signs of heart issues—shortness of breath, palpitations (irregular heartbeats), extreme weakness or dizziness, nausea, sweating, discomfort, pressure, heaviness, or pain in your chest, arm, or below your breastbone, discomfort radiating to your back, jaw, throat, or arm, a feeling of fullness, indigestion, or choking feeling (like heartburn)—there are also some quite odd signs that could actually signal pending heart issues according to some research.
1. A stubby ring finger
There are all kinds of theories about finger length and lines linked to astrology but did you know that your ring finger length can also indicate whether you are at risk for heart disease? That’s right. According to researchers at the University of Liverpool in the UK, if your ring finger is the same length as your index (pointer) finger, you are at greater risk in your 40s and 50s for heart disease, compared to people with a larger ring-to-index-finger ratio. () The actual science behind it suggests that longer ring fingers are a sign of more exposure to testosterone as a fetus, which is apparently associated with lower rates of heart disease among men. Ladies, you may be in luck! According to the researchers, the connection is not as strong among women.
2. Yawning during exercise
Ahhhh….the involuntary yawn. While science has never actually explained this phenomenon, some studies suggest our bodies yawn as a way to help put more oxygen into our blood and cool our brains. () If that is the case, then the odd yawn here or then while working out may seem normal. But according to some studies, if you continually yawn during your workout, it may actually be a signal that your body’s built-in cooling mechanisms are on the fritz! () Researchers of one study go so far as to say that uncontrollable yawning during exercise may indicate a heart or circulatory issue. () So, if you think your internal AC is acting up, it’s a sure sign it’s time to see your doctor for a quick check up.
3. Bad Breath
We all know someone who has incredibly bad breath—you know the kind that not even a mint seems to cover up. This type of bad breath may actually be caused by gum disease and according to experts, gum disease promotes inflammation, which in turn can lead to stoke and heart disease. () The good news is that you can kill two birds with one stone as the saying goes by treating any gum disease right away. Not only will you get rid of that nasty breath, but you can also lower your risk of heart disease. ()
4. Feeling light-headed when you stand up
You have probably felt that very uncomfortable dizziness now and then when you stand up too fast—you know when you things seem a little shaky and you see black spots before your eyes. There is actually a name for it—orthostatic hypotension. () For most people, it only lasts a few seconds. For some, however, this light-headedness can last for a few very scary minutes, which, if you are under 55 is not good news! According to experts from the University of North Carolina, it can indicate an underlying blood flow issue. Their study revealed that people who experience prolonged dizziness after rising are 54 percent more likely to have heart failure later on than those who don’t. () So, go see your doctor if this is happening to you on a regular basis.