Category: Angina Pectoris

Is It Heart Attack or Heartburn? Find Out Now

Symptoms of Heartburn and Heart Attack usually appear similar. But both are different. Even experts sometimes have difficulty in diagnosing. However, in this post we will try to sort out the difference.

First lets understand Heartburn and Heart Attack.

What is Heartburn?

Although Heartburn contains the word ‘Heart’ it has nothing to do with your heart. It is simply a problem of your oesophagus.

Heartburn is caused when digestive juices (made up of HCl, an acid) enters the oesophagus. Your stomach is meant to withstand the acid, your oesophagus is not. Hence, the burning sensation.

What is Heart Attack?

Plaque formation within coronary arteries blocking the flow of blood is called heart attack or Myocardial infarction.

Both conditions occurring at chest’s center, a pain caused by heartburn can easily be considered as Heart Attack.

Use these guidelines to find which is which:

  1. Heartburn usually occurs after a meal (usually a heavier one). Heart Attack can occur at any time.
  2. Chest pain caused by heartburn remains around the chest. Rarely it passes to the throat and jaw. In case of Heart attack, the chest pain starts at chest and spreads alongs the arms, jaw, shoulder and back.
  3. If you belch and the pain goes away, it’s heartburn. If it’s heart attack, pain remains even after belching.
  4. If the pain passes away after taking an antacid then its Heartburn.
  5. If pain worsens after bending over or lying down then it’s heartburn. No matter in what position you are, the pain remains the same for heart attack.
  6. If you experience regular chest pain, often in short periods of time then it indicates possibility of heart attack. Chest pain caused by heartburn stays for hours.
  7. Chest pain accompanied by sweating and trouble in breathing is surely Heart attack.
  8. If you experience sourness in your mouth then its heartburn. This occurs due to the rising of acid.
  9. In case of Heartburn over the counter medication solves the problem.

For a complete list of heart attack symptoms click here.

For heart attack symptoms in women click here.

Here is How to Avoid HeartBurn

  • Don’t sleep within an hour after a meal. Give it a couple of hours so the food you consumed gets digested.
  • Stand up and walk so gravity can assist in digestion.
  • Avoid citrus fruits at night.
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal. When you eat too much, your body secrets more digestive juice than normal. This can easily result in heartburn.
  • Avoid oily foods.
  • Some medications like aspirin can cause heartburn. Talk to your doctor about it.

Although we have provided some tips to differentiate heartburn and heart attack, do not hesitate to call emergency number when in doubt. It is better to be rushed to the hospital and find it’s heartburn than to be foolish and risk your life.

The topic for this article was recommended by Molly Lindsey on our Fan Page. Thanks Molly for a great topic.

If you would like to suggest a topic then please do not hesitate to mention in the comments below or on our Facebook Page.

How a Coronary Angiogram is Performed and When?

In layman term, Angiogram is X-ray imaging of blood vessels.

Blood vessels don’t show up in X-rays. Hence, an Angiogram is required to look at blood vessels.

An Angiogram can be performed in any region. However, it is mostly associated with heart.

When Coronary Angiogram is Recommended?

When you have an episode of Angina or heart attack, Angiogram is recommended. Angiogram helps your cardiologist to find blocked coronary arteries. If any of the block(s), commonly called plaque or atherosclerosis, is more than 75% of blood vessel, a surgery is recommended.

How it is Performed?

Procedure is performed on an X-ray table. Since, the table will tilt during X-ray imaging, your legs and arms may be fastened to safety straps.

Blood pressure cuff to monitor your BP, Electrodes on your chest to monitor your heart rate and an oximeter to measure amount of oxygen in your blood are attached.

You will be given anticoagulant medication so that blood does not clot on catheter.

Local anesthetic is used for adults while for children general anesthetic is used.

Note: Local anesthetic numbs a certain area of body while general anesthetic creates a state of unconsciousness.

An incision is made on your arm or groin. Through this incision, a catheter is passed up to your coronary artery (just above your heart). A contrasting material (called dye) is injected.

When the dye passes through coronary arteries X-ray images are taken from various angles.

Comparing amount of blood flow in the arteries (using X-ray images), your cardiologist will find blocked area. A closer examination will reveal blocked percentage in your coronary artery.

As stated earlier, if more than 75% of artery is blocked, a surgery is recommended. It can be either angioplasty or bypass surgery.

What are the Risks Involved?

  1. You might be allergic to dye. Usually its rash or itching sensation. Before angiogram is taken tell your doctor if you are allergic to Iodine.
  2. The incision part may bleed.
  3. If you have kidney problems chances of iodine dye damaging your kidney are high.

After Angiogram is Done:

For 10 days or more the incision area will remain sore. It will take around 4 weeks for the incision area to resolve completely.

After 24 hours of Angiogram you can regain normal activity (unless you are advised to rest).

Basics of Angina and How to Recover From It

While being active (abnormal to your rest level) if a squeezing pain hits your chest and passes off upon resting, then its an Angina.

Actually, Angina literally means pain. To refer Angina relating to Heart Attack, it is called as Angina pectoris (simply put ‘pain in the chest’). Therefore, this pain in the chest, can be anything and not necessarily mean an impending Heart Attack.

If you experience any of the below then its related to your heart:

  1. tightness around your chest
  2. weight or pressure on your chest
  3. constriction on your chest
  4. an aching pain
  5. a squeezing feeling
  6. feeling like your chest is being crushed or/and
  7. your chest is sore.

Now that we know what Angina is, let us learn why and how it occurs.

Why and How Angina Occurs?

Angina occurs due to blockage of Coronary Arteries. Coronary Arteries are a network of blood vessels that feed the heart, glucose and oxygen (read energy).

 

When you are resting, Coronary Arteries supply enough amount of oxygen and glucose. However, when you get active (like running or doing an activity) your heart needs more glucose and oxygen. Coronary Arteries supply more  oxygen and glucose to the heart by expanding themselves and thus allowing more volume of blood to flow.

At a younger age your Coronary Arteries work efficiently. The problem arises as you age.

As you start consuming fats it gets absorbed into blood. This blood while passing through Coronary Arteries starts depositing tiny bits of fat along the inner wall linings of Coronary Arteries.

Along the year, as you start to age, the deposits become thicker and thicker.

Fast forward to to an older age. Now, the deposits are so thick that the Coronary Arteries are narrower.

CoronaryArteryDisease_02

Note: The fatty deposits are called atheroma. They do not form throughout coronary arteries but at some places.

Lets say you are trying to move furniture around. This is definitely above your rest levels. Obviously your heart starts to beat faster than usual and requires more oxygen and glucose to function properly.

Coronary Arteries which are narrower due to fatty deposits are able to supply oxygen and glucose, sufficient for a resting heart. However, when a heart requires more energy the Coronary Arteries try expanding to allow more blood flow.

The Coronary Arteries do expand, unfortunately blood flow isn’t increased much to match needs of an active heart. The reason are fatty deposits making Coronary Arteries stiffer (being inflexible) blocking increased flow.

Your heart doesn’t get enough energy and it starts screaming, which is the pain called Angina.

What to Do if you Have Sudden Incident of Angina?

If you are prescribed medications for Angina pop it and rest immediately.

On the other hand, If you experience the pain for the first time, here’s what you should do:

  1. Stop doing any activity immediately
  2. Try laying down and getting into a position which is comfortable to you
  3. Relax for at least 30 minutes before you continue
  4. Talk to your doctor about it.

The 30 minute rest is vital. Angina is caused due to your heart not getting sufficient energy (because of any work you have done). The idea here is to get your heart to a relaxed state so that it won’t require more energy.

Fortunately, this situation can be reversed.

Reversing Angina through Diet and Lifestyle Changes:

We know atheroma (fatty deposits blocking blood flow in coronary arteries) are caused by excess cholesterol level in blood. Unfortunately, high cholesterol levels have no symptoms until its too late.

Cholesterol is needed by our body in certain limits. However modern eating habits have increased its limit.

Here are some important tips to reduce cholesterol in your diet:

  1. Eliminate junk foods
  2. Replace frying with grilling
  3. Cut down on dairy and meat. Increase consumption of poultry, fish and vegetables.
  4. Use vegetable oil instead of butter.
  5. Replace whole milk with skimmed or semi skimmed milk.

In short, try consuming way less cholesterol than you used to before.

Such low cholesterol diet will stop further building of fatty deposits and will probably remove the block within few years.

Medical treatments are easily possible with high success rates. Angioplasty is most common treatment in which a catheter is used to inflate the blocked area. And Bypass Surgery, wherein a vein is attached in such a way that it bypasses the blocked area thereby increasing blood flow to the heart.

Important Note:

A documentary titled ‘The Truth About Exercise‘ is worth mentioning here. Within the first ten minutes you will learn how to reduce cholesterol levels in your blood by 1/3. And all it takes is just ‘walking’.

So Michael (the subject) wants to know how he can lose weight, in the best way possible. He meets a doctor who makes Michael eat a fairly fatty meal. After 4 hours, Michael’s blood is drawn and fat is measured.

The doctor asks Michael to take a walk at night. Michael returns the next morning and has the same breakfast. His blood is sampled after 4 hours.

Amount of fat in former and latter blood sample is measured. Michael is shocked to find that after talking a walk, amount of fat within his blood is reduce to 1/3 in spite consuming same amounts of fat.

The reason is his body has learnt to process fat differently.

If you can lower amount of cholesterol within your blood to 1/3 by just walking and lower cholesterol consumption, you can cut the chances of atheroma by 50% and in fact a speedy recovery from Angina is easily possible.

Here is the entire footage of BBC documentary. It’s worth watching (at least first 10 minutes)

What do you think? What steps will you take to stop Angina or how will you prevent?