Some skin symptoms may be subtly telling you that something’s wrong. So, is your skin telling you about a heart problem? Find out.
As your largest organ, your skin may show some of the first signs of something being wrong with your other organs. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, “warning signs can appear on your skin and nails, which is why your dermatologist may be the first doctor to notice that you have heart disease.”
For instance, if you have discolorations, growths, or swelling, you may have serious heart complications. The following is an overview of which specific skin signs you need to be aware of and when to check your heart health.
If you experience cyanosis (bluish coloring of the skin) in your ties, fingers, or lips when the rest of your body is warm, you may have heart issues. “Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should,” says the Mayo Clinic. “Poor blood flow may cause the skin to appear blue (cyanotic).”
High cholesterol may cause xanthomas, which are waxy, yellow skin growths that look like a rash or warts at first glance. Pay attention if you have them, as high cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis, a condition that reduces blood flow to the heart. These growths usually appear on joints (knees and elbows) and even on the eyelids, but can pop up anywhere on the body.
When you have heart problems, your circulation suffers and may lead to swelling in your feet and ankles – a condition known as edema. “This means that [blood] gathers in the legs, and fluid is forced out of the blood vessels into the surrounding tissue,” states an article in the National Library of Medicine. Also, if you lightly press the affected area and an indentation remains, then you have “pitted edema,” which is more closely associated with heart problems than non-pitted edema.
Poor circulation may lead to stasis dermatitis, which is a skin inflammation in the lower legs that causes red, dry, itchy, and scaly skin. “Recognizing stasis dermatitis early may help reveal a life-threatening condition and prevent the skin condition from progressing from swelling, redness and itching to open, oozing ulcerations that are vulnerable to infection,” says Jenny Murase, MD, an associate clinical professor of dermatology.
These are only some of the signs you need to look out for when managing your skin and heart health. By being proactive about your health, you’ll increase the chances of catching heart disease early and treating it effectively.
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