This month happens to be American Heart Month. And while you may be fit and healthy, you need to be on the lookout for warning signs your ticker isn't working the way it should be—especially since heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Early detection is crucial, says Laxmi Mehta, M.D., a cardiologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Check out these signals something's up with your heart; they're most often revealed in bed.
1. Chest pain during intercourse
For many patients, the first time they experience chest pain is during intercourse, Mehta says. It's not from really great sex. The reason is really unsexy, actually. It's exertional chest pain caused from plaque buildup. And if you're an inactive guy, odds are you won't discover this type of chest pain until you're in the midst of doing the deed.
2. Erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction and heart disease are closely associated. A Wroclaw Medical University study found up to 40% of erectile dysfunction cases originate from vascular disturbances (aka poor blood circulation to and within the penis). Mehta adds the two conditions share many of the same symptoms. So, if you're a young, healthy guy experiencing erectile dysfunction, you should be screened for heart disease.
Snoring may seem harmless (though incredibly irritating to your partner), but it can be a warning sign for heart issues in men and women. Mehta says if snoring causes lapses in breathing, it could be a side effect of sleep apnea, a condition which prevents restful sleep and is linked to high blood pressure, arrhythmia, stroke, and heart failure.
4. Heart palpitations while resting
If you're lying down relaxing and notice your heart's beating faster than usaul, or skipping a beat, you may be at risk for heart disease. Most people experience palpitations at one time or another, Mehta says. But if your palpitations feel different or you notice frequent extra beats while resting, you should see your doctor.