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Warning signs of heart attack. How to differentiate heart attack from heartburn

National Institute of Heart defines heart attack as, “it happens when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a section of heart muscle suddenly becomes blocked and the heart can't get oxygen”. The muscles of the heart start dying if blood supply is not restored immediately. The medical terminology for heart attack is myocardial infarction.

Before a heart attack an individual might be experiencing the warning signs months before or that moment of attack. Often these signals are neglected. Therefore, to enhance your awareness on heart attack, we throw light on those potential signs common for both the genders.

Shortness of breath- Gasping for breath while climbing stairs or doing any physical activity and even while resting show a weak heart and this begins a month before heart attack.

Fatigue- exhaustion, fatigue and tiredness in the body is experienced every now and then. It becomes severe after physical activity

Chest pain- Tightness in chest, feeling pressure or squeezing on it accompanied by pain becomes sporadic. The discomfort lasts for a few minutes, then goes and reoccurs.

Anxiety- Commonly known as panic attack, you may feel terribly restless, impatient and anxious without any reason before a heart attack

Upper body pain- The upper parts of the body like neck, shoulders, arms, back and even jaws and teeth begin to ache. Stomach pain is also one of the warning signs of heart attack

Cold sweating- Your body tends to feel damp and cold, breaking out in cold sweat. Apart from these, your normal level of sweating also increases

Nausea and vomiting – you feel sick in your stomach with nausea and vomiting. Mild indigestion, heartburn and lack of appetite might occur before heart attack

Light headedness- Feeling terribly dizzy and lightheaded all of a sudden foretells a heart attack

Rapid pulse rate- pulse rate increases or the heart beat might skip. Irregularity in pulse rate is a warning symptom of heart attack as the person suffers from anxiety

Swelling- You will notice swelling and puffiness (edema) in different parts of your body, more often in legs, feet and ankles

Note: The intensity of the warning signs and the frequency of occurrence differ from one individual to another. If a person has a previous history of heart attack, then the typical symptoms might or might not be evident.

How to differentiate heart attack from heartburn?

The symptoms of heart attack and heartburn mimic each other and they are almost the same. Still there are a few ways that can differentiate whether you are suffering from heartburn or a heart attack. Doctors assume that if an individual experiences sudden burning sensation in the chest accompanied by loss of appetite, bout of dizziness and light-headedness along with lots of sweating, then it could be a warning symptom of heart attack. Otherwise individuals with GERD or reflux history and have experienced the symptoms before; can be concluded as a normal case of heartburn.

However, this is just an assumption proposed to prevent you from getting panicked on experiencing the noted symptoms.

Now that you know the warning signs of heart attack, make sure you get a medical check up done if you are experiencing them. Heart attack can be prevented if you conscientiously modify your lifestyle and diet and follow your doctor’s advice.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 17, 2015