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Spotting The Difference Between Heartburn & Heart Attack Can Be A Lifesaver

Posted Dec 10 2008 11:28am

How many people regret over-indulging on Thanksgiving Day? Some can sleep off the tumult in their stomachs, others experience alarming symptoms. Is that pain in their chest heartburn or a heat attack? The symptoms are similar, but the health consequences differ dramatically.

“We see people in the Emergency Room who think they are only having severe heartburn or experiencing the flu when they are actually having a heart attack,” said Nick Zenarosa, M.D., emergency medicine physician on the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.

If you think you are experiencing heartburn, Dr. Zenarosa recommends watching for the following symptoms which are not typical of heartburn and could indicate a heart attack:

  • Breaking into a cold sweat
  • Pain moving from the chest into the jaw, shoulder or arms
  • Increased pain when you exert yourself, rapid onset of fatigue
  • shortness of breath
  • turning pale
  • slow or no response of symptoms to antacids
  • nausea and possible vomiting

Keep in mind that the signs of a heart attack can be subtle, particularly in women. If you are experiencing any of these signs, coupled with chest pain and/or pain that radiates through your jaw or down your arm, be sure to go to an Emergency Room.

Time is of the essence when a person is having a heart attack. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the sooner clot-busting drugs and other artery-opening treatments are started, the more good they will do, and the greater the chances are for survival and a full recovery.

Source: Baylor Health Care System, November 21, 2008

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