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Heart disease: 6 warning signs that can show up on your skin

Sometimes your skin shows that your heart is weak and needs attention. Heart and skin health have a strong link that you should know about.
Water aerobics will keep your heart healthy too! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 15 Jun 2023, 12:10 pm IST
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An unhealthy gut can cause skin problems like acne and dryness. Clearly, your skin can tell you if your gut health needs care. It also warns you about possible heart problems. Sometimes, there can be bluish discolouration of the skin or lips. You may even spot yellowish bumps on your skin. Some way or the other, your skin will try to show that your heart is weak and needs attention. Read on to find out what are the other warning signs of heart problems that can appear on your skin.

Health Shots consulted Dr Abhijit Borse, Interventional cardiologist, Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai to find out the link between the heart and skin health.

heart and skin
Your skin can show signs of heart health. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Signs of heart problems on skin

There might be times when you might see changes in your skin. Watch out, as these changes might be signs of poor heart health.

1. Cyanosis

Your skin, lips and nail beds might look bluish to you. This happens when there is a decreased oxygen level in the blood, which can be a sign of heart failure or a congenital heart defect, says Dr Borse.

2. Clubbing

It refers to the enlargement of the fingertips and rounding of the nails. It is often associated with long-term low oxygen levels in the blood. This can be seen in conditions like congenital heart disease or chronic lung diseases.

3. Xanthomas

Xanthomas are fatty deposits that can pop up as yellowish bumps on the skin. They can be seen in people with high cholesterol levels, which is a risk factor for heart disease.

4. Petechiae

They are very small red or purple spots that appear when bleeding happens under the skin. They can be a sign of infective endocarditis, which is a serious infection of the heart valves, says the expert.

5. Osler’s nodes and Janeway lesions

While Osler’s nodes are tender and raised areas on the fingers and toes, Janeway lesions are painless red or purplish spots on the palms and soles. Both can be seen in infective endocarditis.

6. Spider veins

They are small, dilated blood vessels that appear close to the skin’s surface. They appear in a pattern that resembles a spider’s web, so you know why they are called spider veins. They can be associated with certain types of heart valve defects or liver disease, which can indirectly affect heart function.

heart and skin
Check with your doctor if you spot changes in your skin. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

What to do after spotting warning signs of heart disease on skin

If you spot any of the skin signs associated with potential heart problems, it’s important to consult a doctor. Be prepared to provide your doctor with a comprehensive medical history, including any pre-existing heart conditions, family history of heart disease, and any other relevant information about your health.

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1. Undergo diagnostic tests

Your doctor might order various tests to further evaluate your heart function and identify any underlying conditions. These tests might include blood tests, electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiogram, stress tests, or other imaging studies, depending on the specific situation, says Dr Borse.

2. Follow medical advice

Based on the evaluation and test results, your doctor will recommend appropriate treatment options or further investigations. It’s important to follow their advice, which might include lifestyle modifications, medications, or referrals to specialists for further management.

3. Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Regardless of the specific diagnosis, adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle is essential. So, don’t skip exercising, eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress, and avoiding smoking or excessive alcohol consumption.

The skin problems are not always related to the heart and can occur due to other underlying conditions as well, so consulting a doctor is the first thing you should do.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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