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Heart failure symptom you can notice in flower shop is sign of biggest killer in over-60s

Medical experts have sounded the alarm over a subtle sign that could signal grave heart failure risks, the leading cause of death in the UK. Alarmingly, many individuals are oblivious to the loss of this sense but, if you’re unable to wake up and smell the roses, you could be at risk of serious heart failure.

There are around 1.4 million people living in the UK with heart failure, which can stem from heart disease, hypertension, or exposure to harmful substances. Identifying those at risk can be challenging, but Medical News Today highlights a new study from Michigan University that suggests a diminishing sense of smell may serve as an early warning.

As we age, the odds of encountering severe heart failure climb, particularly after the age of 60 a time when many also notice their senses waning. Keran Chamberlin, one of the study’s authors, has linked this sensory decline to “subclinical cardiovascular changes.”

Dr Honlei Chen, another author of the study, pointed out: “Smell loss or impairment affects about a quarter of older adults. The public awareness is low though, only about 30 per cent of those with smell loss know they have it.

“We learned in the past two decades that smell loss is one of the most important early markers of dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Interestingly, emerging data, including ours, suggests that smell loss may have more profound implications on the health of older adults, including risk of death, pneumonia, functional decline, and frailty.”

In research analysing 2500 individuals’ health conditions over ten years, scientists discovered a 30 per cent higher prevalence of heart failure among those with declined olfaction abilities.

Researcher Dr Chen stated: “Given what we have discussed about the possible connections between smell loss and cardiovascular health, we are not totally surprised by our finding.”

Co-author Chamberlin shared: “As heart failure is an advanced multi-faceted syndrome, its progression may be exacerbated by the elevated vulnerability. Therefore, smell loss may be related to cardiovascular health as a marker, contributor, or both.”

Despite this, Gloucestershire Live reports no correlation could be established linking olfaction loss to stroke and heart disease, two primary causes of heart failure. Chamberlin admitted his surprise on this, saying: “We are a bit surprised by the fact that we only identified this association for heart failure, but not for coronary heart disease or stroke.”

“Admittedly, we do not have a good explanation for this. However, compared to coronary heart disease or stroke, congestive heart failure is a more complex and advanced syndrome with structural or functional cardiac abnormality,” she confessed to Medical News Today.

“Besides atherosclerosis, other myocardial stressors can also trigger heart failure hospitalisation. Smell loss may signify higher vulnerability to myocardial stressors beyond atherosclerosis. Nevertheless, our findings are preliminary, waiting for confirmation.”

Heart failure symptoms

Heart failure is when your heart becomes unable to properly pump blood around your body, usually as a result of the muscle becoming too stiff or weak. It cannot be cured, but it can be treated and controlled.

The NHS describes the main symptoms of heart failure as:

  • Breathlessness after activity or at rest
  • Feeling tired most of the time and finding exercise exhausting
  • Feeling lightheaded or fainting
  • Swollen ankles and legs

These symptoms can occur very quickly, known as acute heart failure, or build up gradually over the course of weeks and months, which is chronic heart failure.

If you are worried that you are experiencing heart failure, speak to your GP if you have these persistent symptoms. If you have sudden or very severe symptoms, phone 999 straight away.


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