Our heart when encountering continued distress has its way of warning us. Some of the usual symptoms include:

  1. Pain and discomfort in the chest
  2. Unexplained pain spreading into the arms
  3. Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  4. Getting exhausted easily
  5. Snoring, gasping and wheezing loudly while sleeping
  6. Sudden and unexplained sweating
  7. Sustained swelling in the legs around the ankles and feet

Hi folks, this is Dr Rituparna Shinde, Cardiologist of Pune’s most famous life- enhancing Aloha Clinics that specializes in bringing about health by bringing about deep and sustained lifestyle changes.

The above-stated changes take place due to a variety of reasons that have one thing in common. A bad heart.

While things including pain and discomfort in the chest can directly be attributed to a weak heart fighting a losing battle and giving out signals of distress, dizziness and light-headedness happen when the heart pumps lesser blood to the brain making one feel light-headed and weak. The feeling of being exhausted all the time is a direct consequence of lesser quantities of oxygen-rich blood in the body that is needed. Snoring and gasping happen due to sleep apnea, a condition when breathing stops abruptly several times during sleep.

The last in the stated list ie sustained swelling in the legs around the ankles and feet are also directly attributable to a weak heart. Heart failure leads to retention of fluids in the body leading to Edema i.e. swelling in various places on the body. Of these, the most pronounced swelling takes place in the legs which include the ankles and feet. This frequently occurs in expectant women and for them isn’t a cause of worry. The reason for fluid retention in heart patients is the direct result of the heart’s inability to pump blood to all the parts of the body. As a result, fluids accumulate in the lower extremities i.e., the feet. What this does to the lower parts of our body include:

Swelling in the feet and ankles can be cured by the following means:

Controlling salt intake: A normal person needs at best between 1500 to 2000 mg of salt every day for the body to take care of its functions efficiently. Anything above this quantity turns into the genuine reason behind higher water retention and consequent conditions including heart diseases. One of the main culprits is packaged foods where taste is primary over nutrition, and salt is used excessively.

Increased physical activity: Physical exercise helps expel high sodium levels with sweat. In addition, it controls body weight, blood sugar and regulates blood pressure. With sustained exercise, the heart is put through reasonable pressure which keeps it in proper shape to do its intended functions.

Manage and reduce stress: When everything else is OK, stress kills most heart patients. Stress mimics a life-and-death situation with the blood pressure remaining high over sustained periods. This leads to arteries become stiff and likely to rupture leading to lesser blood to the heart and other parts of the body, including the brain which may prove fatal. Yoga, meditation and taking things easy are thus of high importance.

Foods and lifestyles: Rest, consumption of water and seasonal fruits and vegetables are said to reduce stress on the heart. Though they don’t directly contribute, they can help in situations including diabetes and excessive blood pressure which itself may help in controlling heart diseases.

Medical assistance: Medicines like beta-blockers help reduce stressful actions in the heart. Those, and others including devices like pace-makers can help people lead fairly uneventful lives. Where conditions persist, one has options including coronary artery bypass, stents and in extreme cases even heart transplant.
In the end, it’s the observant who stand the most chance of beating the odds and living a good life. If swelling in the feet become a persistent occurrence for no good reason, it should set alarm bells ringing. And ringing very loud!

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