It’s always sad when someone dies, but there’s something especially upsetting about someone dying of something that could have been prevented, if only they’d known what to look out for. Former Miss North Dakota USA Samantha Edwards is one of those people. Edwards, who died unexpectedly this summer from what ended up being an undiagnosed heart condition, is greatly mourned, and her family hopes her death will raise awareness of signs and symptoms that suggest an undiagnosed heart condition.
Self spoke with experts about a few things to look out for when it comes to a heart condition:
1. Chest pains
While chest pains don’t always mean something super terrifying, they can mean anything from a pulled muscle to a heart attack to an undiagnosed heart problem. Even if you’ve just accepted chest pains as a way of life, it’s still a good idea to get a second (professional) opinion.
2. A racing or skipping heartbeat
According to Nicole Weinberg, M.D., if you become randomly aware of your heartbeat in a way that feels stressful or just like majorly wrong, definitely get it looked at. It often comes down to this: why risk it?
3. Leg swelling
Laxmi Mehta, M.D. explained to Self that “swelling in the legs that you haven’t had before is something to worry about.” While it doesn’t always mean you have a heart condition, it could be a sign of something else. Rarely is it just something random that doesn’t need treatment of some sort.
4. Unexplained fainting
Fainting isn’t especially uncommon, especially if you’re on your period or are standing out in the heat for long periods of time. However, if you suspect that it may not be as simple as low iron levels or dehydration, chat with your doctor.
Don’t worry, though, because many heart conditions are treatable!
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, conditions ranging from coronary heart disease to heart attacks are treatable.
So if you’re avoiding getting things checked out because you’re freaked out about something being hugely wrong, don’t. Women tend to be less than great about getting their health checked out because we brush it off, say we’re too busy, and worry about the toll our potential illness will have on those around us. Remember that taking care of your body is an important form of self care. After all, it’s always better to catch it early and get treated ASAP.