Maybe you’ve been too busy to get to your doctor about that fluttering feeling in your heart or the fatigue that just won’t let up. Or maybe you’re scared these symptoms might mean something more serious is going on.

These symptoms, as well as the others listed here, can signal a serious illness. If you experience any of these, follow up with your doctor right away.

1. Chest pain or pressure. Heart disease is the number-one killer of women. Despite this, most women don’t head to the doctor unless it feels like something huge is sitting on their chest. If you feel completely worn out or have pain or discomfort in your chest, don’t take these symptoms lightly. 

Heart disease symptoms in women tend to be more subtle than in men. You may feel a mild discomfort or “belching” sensation similar to acid reflux. These could be signs of coronary artery disease, which puts you at increased risk of a heart attack.
If you ever feel chest pain or pressure that doesn’t let up after several minutes, get to the ER.

2. Heart palpitations. Drinking too much caffeine can make your heart flutter, and so can anxiety. But chronic heart palpitations can signal an irregular heartbeat or atrial fibrillation, says the American Heart Association.

Either of these conditions increases your stroke risk. This is especially true if you have other heart disease risk factors such as being a smoker or having high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Palpitations could also be a sign of heart valve disease or hyperthyroidism. Go over your symptoms with your doctor to find out what’s going on.

3. Shortness of breath. Feeling like you can’t catch your breath can signal heart disease and even an impending heart attack. Shortness of breath is also associated with asthma, pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, lung cancer and blood clots.

If you’re continually having trouble breathing, especially if you also have other symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, nausea or chest pain, get emergency medical attention right away.

4. Skin changes. Know your skin! Some breast cancers show up as red or thickened skin rather than the expected lump.

If a mole, freckle or wart looks or feels different, or you have a new growth or sore that won’t heal, see a dermatologist right away to rule out a skin infection, melanoma or other skin cancer.

5. Leg swelling. If one or both of your legs are noticeably swollen, especially after you’ve been traveling in an airplane or car, see a doctor. Swelling in one leg can mean a blood clot. Women are at increased risk of blood clots during pregnancy and six to 12 weeks after delivery.

If the swelling is in both legs, this could be a sign of preeclampsia. This condition affects pregnant women, causing high blood pressure and reduced blood flow to the baby, according to the National Institutes of Health. Other causes of leg swelling include kidney or liver disease.

6. Pelvic pain. If it hurts to pee or have sex, your body could be trying to tell you that you have a gynecological problem such as a vaginal infection or endometriosis.

Pain while urinating, along with unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge when you don’t have your period or after menopause, could signal uterine cancer. Schedule an exam with your OB-GYN.

7. Unexplained weight loss. If you’ve lost weight and aren’t dieting, you could be depressed. Depression is linked with loss of appetite. But so are a host of other medical conditions. For instance, if you also have gnawing pain in your stomach, back pain, yellow skin and dark urine, these could be signs of pancreatic cancer.

If you’re losing weight without trying, especially if you lose more than 5 percent of your weight in six months to a year, talk to your doctor.

Published by Promise Okorho