MILLIONS of people can face the risk of deadly heart disease because they don't know the main warning signs.
The leading charity has warned that flu-like symptoms that can constantly mean you have heart problems.
Cardiomyopathy UK says things like shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations, and dizziness can be a sign of cardiomyopathy and myocarditis.
Doctors now urge people to consider the potential underlying heart causes if they experience flu symptoms during the winter months.
It came after a study that revealed 95 percent of people did not realize that persistent flu-like symptoms could be a sign of the condition, cardiomyopathy and myocarditis.
Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle, whereas myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle.
And the lack of awareness of the symptoms of this disorder means the majority of people will not visit a GP with persistent flu-like symptoms.
Shortness of breath and chest pain
New data reveals that this problem is very important during the winter, when people with flu-like symptoms who survive are 59 percent less likely to visit the GP, compared to summer.
Dr Jim Moore, President of the Cardiovascular Primary Care Association, said: "There is a degree of crossing between heart and flu symptoms such as including shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations, or dizziness.
"While these symptoms can persist during the winter months, if a patient experiences persistent symptoms, it is important to consider the potential underlying heart causes.
"The flu season is undeniably a busy time for us in primary health care, but, if worried, no one ever feels guilty for seeking further advice."
Winter flu season
And Joel Rose, Chief Executive of Cardiomyopathy UK, urges people to visit the GP if they are worried.
He added: "During the winter flu season, it is important for people to recognize the signs and symptoms of heart disease such as cardiomyopathy and myocarditis.
"With the case of the common cold and colds, people have to listen to their bodies. If they are worried, they should visit, or visit again, the doctor as soon as possible."
What is cardiomyopathy?
Cardiomyopathy is a general term for heart muscle disease, where the walls of the chambers of the heart become dilated, thickened, or stiff.
This affects the heart's ability to pump blood throughout the body.
Some types of cardiomyopathy are inherited and are seen in children and younger people.
1. Dilated cardiomyopathy
In dilated cardiomyopathy, the walls of the heart muscle have become stretched and thinned out, so they cannot properly contract (squeeze) to pump blood throughout the body.
If you have dilated cardiomyopathy, you are at greater risk of heart failure, where the heart fails to pump enough blood throughout the body at the right pressure.
2. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
In hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle cells become enlarged and the walls of the heart chambers thicken.
The size of the space is reduced so that they cannot hold a lot of blood, and the walls cannot relax well and can become stiff.
3. Restrictive cardiomyopathy
Restrictive cardiomyopathy is uncommon and mostly affects older adults.
The walls of the main heart chamber become stiff and rigid and cannot relax well after contracting. This means that the heart cannot be filled with blood.
4. Arithmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy
In arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), a protein that normally joins the heart muscle cells is abnormal.
Muscle cells can die and dead muscle tissue is replaced by fat and fibrous tissue.
Not everyone with cardiomyopathy needs treatment. Some people only have a mild form of disease that they can control after making some lifestyle changes.
Cardiomyopathy UK also revealed that many people brush the relationship between flu symptoms and heart conditions because of pre-existing ideas from typical heart patients.
Specifically, 63 percent of people associate a heart condition with being overweight, having an unhealthy, inactive, or middle age diet or lifestyle.
In fact, cardiomyopathy is a major cause of sudden cardiac death in young people.
This is a heart muscle disease that affects about one in 300 people.
If left unmanaged, it can cause cardiac arrest – making early detection very important to save lives.
If you are taller than 5ft 7ins you are at greater risk of stroke, doctors warn
Pacemakers increase ticker strength by 20% & 'reverse the effects of heart failure'
Triathlete has a child's personality after the sumo accident at the wedding
DO NOT EAT YOUR HEART
Dinner after 6 pm can increase the risk of heart disease
A LOT OF WORK
The work puts women at greater risk of heart problems revealed
Vaping may be as bad as the heart as smoking, experts say
Can not sleep Insomnia means you are more at risk of heart attack and stroke
RUN FOR YOUR LIFE
A weekly run can 'cut the risk of premature death by more than a quarter'
Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle wall.
This can affect how well the heart works: it means the heart can't pump properly and doesn't work normally.
It also affects the normal electrical signaling of the heart (heart rate and heart rhythm) – this can cause irregular heart rhythms, known as arrhythmias.