High blood pressure, stress, and diabetes are all familiar warning signs that someone’s at risk for cardiovascular disease. But there are other red flags that most of us are not aware of, such as hair loss, or problems in the bedroom. By paying attention to risk factors, and using them as cues to make healthy changes in your life, there’s a lot that can be done to prevent cardiovascular damage early on, says Rene Alvarez, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Cardiovascular Institute. Here are six unusual signs of heart disease—and what you can do to protect yourself.
1. Sexual dysfunction
Heart disease may be the last thing on your mind when you’re cuddling close to your significant other, but trouble performing may be a concern for heart health as well as sexual health. Dr. Alvarez says that although sexual dysfunction in men and women is different, the issue linking it to heart disease is the same: When blood vessels don’t work well, sexual problems can occur. “If you have dysfunction in one circulatory area you have it in others,” he says.
Do this. Treat both issues. With good medical therapy and healthy lifestyle changes, both sexual dysfunction and heart disease can be avoided. Dr. Alvarez recommends regular exercise, and talking with your physician about daily aspirin use and your vascular health, to resolve both problems.