Grey Skin Colour Heart Disease

  • 1st Revision: Lucy Walker
  • 2nd Revision: Sophia Bradshaw
  • 3rd Revision: Ha Nguyen

Did you know that your skin is the largest, and arguably the most important, organ in your body?

Not only does your skin hold everything in, but it also plays a crucial role in providing an airtight, watertight and flexible barrier between the outside world and the regulated systems within your body.

It also helps with temperature regulation, immune defenses, vitamin production, and sensation (The Conversation).

Due to the multiple functions of your skin, it can often show the first indications that something might be going wrong within your body. Therefore, it is important that any symptoms are not ignored.

Warning Signs for Cardiovascular Disease on the Skin

Your heart, like every organ, is essential. It is responsible for pushing your blood around your body. The movement of blood around the body is called the circulatory system, and it determines how much oxygen circulates through your body.

The American Academy of Dermatology confirms that warning signs for health problems or disease can first appear on your skin and nails. This might mean that a dermatologist might be the first doctor to discover that you may have a problem.

What is ‘Grey Pallor'?

Pallor means ‘pale skin’. Being paler than usual can be the result of numerous health problems as defined by healthline, amongst which could be a condition that requires treatment.

Grey, blue, or purple discolouration on your skin could be an indication of cyanosis. Cyanosis is  a blockage in a blood vessel. There are 3 types of blood vessels carrying blood through the circulatory system; arteries, veins and capillaries. 

Arteries transport blood away from the heart, and veins return blood back towards it. Capillaries surround cells and tissues in the body to deliver and absorb waste (visible body). 

Blood pressure indicates the force of blood inside the blood vessels. Your blood pressure level is a good indication of how well your heart is pumping. It is best to try and maintain your blood pressure at the optimum level, which is between 90/60 mmhg and 120/80 mmhg.

When you are feeling really cold, your skin can turn bluish in colour due to the temperature. However, if an area of your skin is blue, grey, or purple even when you are warm, it can be a sign that your blood is not getting enough oxygen to the tissues.

Without treatment, the lack of oxygen can cause the skin and tissue to eventually die. This can lead to a heart attack.

A Brief Overview of Heart Attack Symptoms 

Cardiac arrest (heart attack) is when your heart stops beating or beats irregularly, and can be caused by any heart condition. This can be very dangerous and in a lot of cases, fatal.

It is possible that the individual does not know they have a heart condition, which is why it can happen suddenly and without warning. Causes may also include scarring of the heart tissue due to previous damage or lifestyle; thickening of the heart muscle because of heart failure or disease; heart medications; electrical abnormalities; blood vessel abnormality triggered by physical activity; and recreational drug use.

The symptoms of a heart attack can vary according to the individual and their overall health level. They can take place either extremely fast or gradually.

According to the National Health Service (NHS), the symptoms of a heart attack can include all or one of the following:

  • Chest pain: Sensations of pressure, tightness or squeezing in the centre of your chest.
  • Travelling pain: Moving from your chest to your arms (usually your left arm), your neck, back and tummy.
  • Feeling physically unwell: Lightheaded, dizzy, sweating, short of breath, coughing or wheezing.
  • Feeling anxious (similar to having a panic attack).

Responding to the symptoms

So, what do you do if you witness someone having a heart attack, or think that you might be having one? 

This should always be the first priority if you think you might be having a heart attack. You could become unconscious alone which may be fatal. If you are with somebody having a heart attack, you will need additional assistance.

Call for help

If you know how to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), this is the time to use that skill. The emergency services operator will also be able to talk you through the steps to help the person in distress.

The faster the heart is restarted, the smaller the chance of lasting damage or death. Defibrillators (devices used to electrically ‘kickstart’ a heart) are now kept in many public establishments because they can save lives.

How to prevent a heart attack

Changing your habits following a heart attack in order to prevent another, or changing your habits to live your healthiest life, is the best way for you to try and prevent a heart attack or any problems with your heart.

Both the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and American Heart Association (AHA) give advice on the best ways that you can do this:

  • Stop smoking: If you are a smoker, the NHS has many resources on how to quit.
  • Alcohol: Cutting your alcohol consumption down to reduced levels will improve your heart health. 
  • Diet and nutrition: Stick to a healthy and nutritious diet 
  • Physical exercise: Getting some form of physical exercise on a daily basis can help you sleep better, manage weight, and improve overall health.
  • Reduce stress: Your mental health can have detrimental effects on your physical health, and how well you take care of yourself. Improving your mental wellbeing and reducing stress is proven to reduce strain on the heart, and to improve overall health.
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Emma Buckett

Health Scientist, Coventry University BSc
BSc with honours in Health Sciences, Human Genetics and Health Issues by the Open University, Diploma in Counseling at the Open College, Advanced General National Vocational Qualification in Health and Social Care.

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