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Heart disease, a silent but lethal medical condition, is the leading cause of death globally. Awareness and timely diagnosis can make a significant difference in outcomes. "Your heart works tirelessly, day and night; give it the attention it deserves," urges Dr Niranjan Hiremath, a senior cardiovascular consultant, aortic surgeon and the surgical lead of the Apollo Hospital.
1. Night-time chest discomfort: Often mistaken for indigestion or acid reflux, chest pain that appears at night can be indicative of angina or coronary artery disease. If the pain radiates to the arm, neck, jaw, or back, significantly if it's associated with sweating, nausea, or shortness of breath, it could be a sign of an impending heart attack. Experts advise not dismissing such pains and seeking immediate medical attention.
2. Sleep apnea and heart links: Sleep apnea, characterized by intermittent breathing pauses during sleep, has been strongly linked to heart conditions. Those who experience chronic snoring, gasping for air during sleep, or daytime fatigue should consider undergoing a sleep study.
3. Nocturnal sweating: Unexplained night sweats, unrelated to the environment or other known causes, can be associated with heart disease. Excessive sweating at night may indicate that the heart is working harder than it should, possibly due to a blockage or weakened heart muscle.
4. Frequent urination: While this can be a sign of many conditions, including urinary tract infections or diabetes, it can also indicate heart failure. This condition may cause fluid accumulation in the body, leading the kidneys to produce more urine at night.
5. Restless leg syndrome's hidden message: A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found a connection between restless leg syndrome (RLS) and heart disease, particularly in women. RLS symptoms include an uncontrollable urge to move the legs, which can interrupt sleep. It's essential to discuss such symptoms with a physician.
6. Nocturnal breathlessness: If you wake up short of breath, it might be more than just a bad dream. Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea, a sudden and severe shortness of breath at night, can signal heart failure or arrhythmias. Sitting upright typically relieves the symptoms.
7. Elevated pulse rate: A consistently high pulse rate at night, especially when resting, can be a red flag. Tachycardia, or an abnormally fast heart rate, might point towards potential issues with the heart's electrical system.
While heart disease's typical symptoms are widely recognized, these nocturnal signs may provide an early warning system. The key is not to dismiss them. Listening to your body, especially at night, can differentiate between timely intervention and a potentially life-threatening situation.