Heart attack: Is your tongue a certain colour? Peculiar sign warning of condition

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Heart attacks happen when an artery supplying your heart with blood and oxygen becomes blocked, usually by a blood clot. The most common underlying cause of blood clots is coronary heart disease (CHD), a process whereby coronary arteries (the major blood vessels that supply the heart with blood) become clogged with deposits of cholesterol. A person’s tongue holds many health clues and if you have noticed it change to a different colour, it could mean you may be at risk.

A tongue which is red with a yellow coating could mean a person is at greater risk of heart disease, experts have warned.

The researchers warned that microorganisms lurking on the tongue could help diagnose heart failure.

The study was conducted by Dr Tianhui Yuan from the Hospital of Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine.

Dr Yuan that patients with chronic heart failure have “totally different” tongues to those who do not have the condition.

“Normal tongues are pale red with a pale white coating,” she said.

“Heart failure patients have a redder tongue with a yellow coating and the appearance changes as the disease becomes more advanced.

“Our study found that the composition, quantity and dominant bacteria of the tongue coating differ between heart failure patients and healthy people.”

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In a study published in BMJ, heart failure, a thick tongue, and an abnormal cranial computed tomogram were investigated.

The study noted: “Chronic hypocalcaemia can explain symptoms and signs of a thick tongue, and cranial computed tomography finding of bilateral basal ganglia calcification. 

“The pathophysiology of cardiac failure is chronic hypocalcaemia leading to hypocalcaemic dilated cardiomyopathy and cardiac failure.

“Hypocalcaemia leads to decreased myocardial contractility, clinically this may translate into congestive heart failure.

The congestive cardiac failure in hypocalcaemia is refractory to diuretics and digitalis but rapidly responds to restoration of calcium concentrations to normal.” 

“The underlying mechanisms connecting microorganisms in the tongue coating with heart function deserve further study.”

While the new study, published by the European Society of Cardiology, found that patients with heart disease would present with a red tongue, previous research has also suggested that this could detect early pancreatic cancer.

Certain bacteria create immunity but an imbalance in this could stimulate disease and inflammation.

Researchers said inflammation and the immune response also play a key role in heart failure.

The tongue holds many clues as to one’s health.

A black and hairy looking tongue may be caused yeast infections, diabetes, cancer therapies, and poor oral hygiene.

A tongue that is bright red like a strawberry may be a sign of deficiency of folic acid, vitamin B12, or iron.

A tongue full of red and white spots may indicate that your taste buds are worn down.

A tongue with white patches may be due to oral candidiasis, which is an overgrowth of yeast or thrush. 

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