Iron is an essential mineral in the human body, facilitating the creation of red blood cells that help pump oxygen throughout the body. Low iron levels can cause fatigue as well as hinder the immune system’s ability to fight off infections. Also, not getting enough iron in middle age can lead to about a 10 percent increase in heart attack risk within a decade. While iron deficiency anemia can make heart conditions worse or even cause them, if it’s severe enough any damage can usually be reversed if the anemia is detected and treated early enough. Here’s what you should know about iron deficiency anemia and its impact on heart health.
Unusual tiredness: Feeling very tired is one of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency. This symptom is common in people who don’t have enough iron. Without enough hemoglobin, less oxygen reaches your tissues and muscles, depriving them of energy. Your heart also has to work harder to move more oxygen-rich blood around your body, which can make you tired.
Chest Pains and Palpitations: A rapid heartbeat and palpitations along with feelings of anxiety (due to a deprived sympathetic nervous system) may be connected to a lack of oxygen in the blood. When there’s a low level of oxygen in the blood, the heart works extra hard to compensate. This puts a lot of pressure on the heart, which can cause it to beat faster, irregularly, and experience pain.
Headaches and dizziness: Iron deficiency may cause headaches, particularly in women. This symptom seems to be less common than others and often occurs with lightheadedness or dizziness. Headaches may occur because low levels of hemoglobin in red blood cells mean that not enough oxygen reaches the brain. As a result, blood vessels in the brain may swell, causing pressure and headaches.
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