5 Ways Your Skin Tells You Your Heart’s in Trouble – Best Life

As your largest organ – and the only one visible from the outside – your skin is a window into your overall health. And in the same way that stress can cause breakouts and make conditions like eczema worse, symptoms of other internal health issues can also show up on your skin. Seeing something suspicious on your skin could be one of the first indications that something is wrong with one of your other organs, including your heart.

“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,” says the American Academy of Dermatology. Various growths, discolorations or swelling in certain areas could be linked to serious heart complications. Read on to find out which specific skin signs may be problematic and warrant a heart checkup.

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A bluish discoloration of your skin (the medical term for this is cyanosis) can occur when you are exposed to cold temperatures. However, if you notice this change in skin tone, especially in your toes, fingers, or lips, while your body is hot, it could indicate a heart problem. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle does not pump blood as well as it should. Poor blood circulation can cause the skin to turn blue (cyanotic).”

A web-like purple pattern under the skin that persists even in warmer temperatures could also be a red flag. This is known as livido reticularis and usually appears on the arms or legs.

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Closed eyes with xanthomas
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The appearance of yellow, waxy skin growths can be bad news for your heart. The painless growths, called xanthomas, may look like a rash or warts at first glance, but they are actually fatty deposits under the skin indicating an overall higher level of cholesterol in the blood.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, when cholesterol levels in the body are too high, cholesterol can build up on the walls of your arteries, causing what is called atherosclerosis. “This condition causes the arteries to narrow, and the narrowing of the blood vessels reduces blood flow to the heart,” the clinic explains. “This can lead to angina (chest pain) due to insufficient blood flow to the heart, or heart attack in cases where a blood vessel is completely blocked and the heart muscle begins to die.”

Contact your doctor if you notice the sudden appearance of yellow or orange bumps on your skin. They can appear anywhere on the body, but are most commonly found on the joints, such as the knees and elbows. And a specific type of xanthoma, called xanthelasmas, even develops on the eyelids.

Problems with the feet, joints, legs and ankles.

Have your shoes or socks been feeling a little tighter recently? Swelling of the feet and ankles, called edema, can be another symptom of heart disease. When the heart weakens, it is unable to effectively pump blood through the veins to areas such as the feet and back, causing pooling. “This means it builds up in the legs and the fluid is pushed out of the blood vessels into the surrounding tissues,” says an article published by the National Library of Medicine.

Be especially careful with so-called ‘punctate’ edema, as it is more closely associated with heart problems than ‘non-punctate edema’, which is often linked to thyroid or lymphatic system complications . You can identify which is which by pressing lightly on the affected area. If an indentation or “pit” remains afterwards, you are dealing with punctate edema.

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older woman scratching her lower legs

Stasis dermatitis, a form of eczema, is inflammation of the skin on the lower legs caused by poor circulation and fluid buildup that results in red, itchy, dry, and even scaly skin. Like edema, it can be caused by poor heart function because blood cannot flow through the veins properly.

Jenny Murase, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology, stressed the importance of catching and treating the disease early in a statement to the National Eczema Association. “Recognizing stasis dermatitis early can help reveal a life-threatening condition and prevent the skin condition from progressing from swelling, redness and itching to open, oozing ulcers that are vulnerable to infection,” Murase said.

red spots on white skin due to hearing problems
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Janeway’s lesions and Osler’s nodes both show up on the skin as reddish-purple bumps or spots. However, Janeway’s lesions are usually painless and occur on the palms and soles of the feet, while Osler’s nodes can be painful and are found on the fingers and bottom of the toes.

Despite their differences, both can be manifestations of bacterial endocarditis, a life-threatening infection of the lining and internal valves of the heart. Bacterial endocarditis can cause heart failure, heart attacks, and other complications if left untreated. People who have already had complications such as heart valve disease, rheumatic heart disease or heart transplantation are at higher risk of contracting this dangerous type of infection.

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