Entries in Signs (2)


Six Ways Your Body May Clue You In to Possible Health Problems

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- From the eyes and ears to the fingertips, the human body can offer small hints that reveal a lot about a person’s health, some medical experts say.

Dr. Michael Wald, a holistic doctor in Mount Kisco, N.Y. who calls himself the “Blood Detective,” said that people should pay attention to features like creases in their ears and the length of their arms because they can serve as clues to medical issues such as heart disease.

1. Ear Crease

A 74-year-old man with an increased risk for heart disease said that while he’d noticed the crease in his ear, he’d paid little to no attention to it.

“That diagonal earlobe crease that goes from the very bottom of the ear up in a diagonal fashion — it really is an enfolding of tissue and that is what is being associated with heart disease,” Wald said.

One study found that 71 percent of people with that crease suffered from heart disease.

2. Ear Wax

Wald said that even ear wax has been linked to heart disease.

“We’re basically born genetically with one of two different types of ear wax,” he said. “There is a wet, sticky type and a dry, brittle type and if you are more of a dry, brittle type, you are at more of a risk of heart disease as opposed to the wet one.”

Wald said the connection has something to do with the way the body handles oil and fat.

3. Five O’Clock Shadow

Wald said that the five o’clock shadow could mean that a man “probably will have a lower risk of cardiovascular risk in the future because that five o’clock is produced by testosterone. The more testosterone you have, the less risk of heart disease.”

4. Arms and Legs

Arms shorter than 60 inches could signal an increased risk of heart disease.

And long arms have been associated with a chance of reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Doctors say they think it’s linked to the embryo’s exposure to different hormones like estrogen and testosterone.

Calves less than 13 inches around could also signal heart problems.

“Sometimes small calves reflect increased risk in circulation and increased risk in cardiovascular disease,” Wald said.

5. ‘Nail Clubbing’

Nail clubbing occurs when the tissue at the tips of the fingers start to cover the nail. Studies have shown that 80 percent of people with clubbing fingernails have serious illness, heart disease, lung disease or cancer.

6. Green Nasal Mucus

Green nasal mucus has been associated with a higher instance of heart disease. The green mucus contains a chemical that gives it that color. The chemical can damage tissues in the sinuses, in the lungs or in the heart.

Wald said that if a person had any of these traits, they should not panic.

“If you see something that you have just read or heard, take that to your doctor, and that might lead him or her to test you a little bit differently or question you a little bit differently, and then see what is really going on,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


What Dad Didn't Know Best: Heart Attack Signs

ABC News' Dr. Richard Besser and his father, Bill Besser (ABC News)By Dr. Richard Besser

(NEW YORK) -- It's the phone call you never want to receive.

"Hi, it's Mom. We're at the hospital. They are admitting Dad. Give us a call."

My dad is a doctor. He is one of the big reasons I went into medicine. Seeing the impact he had on people's lives every day was inspiring. My mind was racing through the possibilities. I'm fortunate in that I come from healthy stock. Neither of my parents has ever had a serious illness. Their parents all lived to old age with their minds and bodies in great shape.

I called her back immediately. Dad was being admitted to the hospital because they thought he may have had a heart attack. Sometimes, it's obvious. With a massive heart attack you may lose consciousness and your heart may stop. With a small heart attack, they need to do multiple blood tests over time to see if there has been damage to heart muscle; that defines a heart attack.

My dad having a heart attack? How could that be? My dad was more active than I am. My parents are in their 80s but play tennis several times a week, ride their bikes every day, and swim. He'd never mentioned that he had chest pain or heart troubles.

Turns out he did have a heart attack but he had ignored every symptom. When he finally thought it was his heart, he waited hours before getting help. He did everything wrong. He doesn't want you to make the same mistakes.

Here are some of his signs that you should not ignore.

  1. Heartburn -- My father had been having heartburn for the past couple of months. It wasn't relieved by an antacid. This was new for him. If you have new onset heartburn, get it checked out.
  2. Poor sleep -- sleep disturbance can be the presentation of a number of medical problems. If your heart isn't working well, lying down can make it harder to breath but sometimes, all you'll see is a problem sleeping. My father attributed his problem sleeping to a new bed. If you are having trouble sleeping for the first time, get it checked out.
  3. Trouble climbing steps -- This is a classic sign of heart trouble. My mom could go up two flights of stairs without a problem. My dad was short of breath after even one flight. He attributed it to aging. Don't do that!

And while my dad didn't have pain, remember that the pain with a heart attack can vary from crushing pain in the chest to simple discomfort in your neck and jaw.

When my dad finally thought that he might be having a heart attack, he proceeded to make even more mistakes. He had my mom drive him to the hospital! He didn't take the aspirin that was in the emergency pill case on his key chain. And rather than going to the nearest hospital, he went to a hospital further away that he liked more. Thankfully, despite his mistakes, the cardiologists were able to open up his blocked arteries (one was 95-percent blocked), and within days he was back to playing tennis.

I feel so lucky that my dad dodged a bullet here. He wants to make sure you do all you can to increase your chances of making it through a heart attack. If you think you or someone you are with is having a heart attack, time really matters.

Here's what you should do, according to

  1. Call 911. Emergency responders will start treatment on the way to the hospital. For the best outcome, you should be at the hospital within one hour of a heart attack. Nearly half don't get there until four hours afterward because they ignore the signs.
  2. Chew and swallow an aspirin. Aspirin can cut down on clot formation. With a heart attack, the usual cause is a blood clot forming in one of the arteries supplying your heart muscle.
  3. Take nitroglycerin if it has been prescribed by your doctor. Don't take it if it wasn't prescribed for you.
  4. Begin CPR if the person having the heart attack is unconscious. New CPR guidelines call for skipping the mouth-to-mouth and just doing chest compressions. Remember to call 911 first so they can be on their way.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio