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There’s a fear consistent with most heart attack survivors.  Whatever their symptoms were at the very start of the HA, even simple indigestion, can be scary.

My heart attack began with what seemed like indigestion.  It was uncomfortable and I’d had it for almost 6 hours.  Then the other symptoms kicked in.  Around two months after the event I had indigestion bad enough to make me anxious.  And today the same thing.

I’m not sure if there’s a pattern yet.  Is it food I eat, something I drank, stress?  All three combined?  Not sure yet.  I don’t want to go to the ER every time I have some sort of intestinal issue or gas.  However, now that I’m living in a new area with no friends close by, and no idea where the hospitals are located, I’m more anxious.

Off to Google to search for information.  I found an article on www.Health.com and read this bit of information:

Brain can mix-up pain signals from chest, stomach
GERD and other gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers, muscle spasms in the esophagus, a gallbladder attack, and pancreatitis can all cause chest pain and other symptoms that mimic those of a heart attack or angina, a crushing type of chest pain caused by decreased blood flow to the heart. Some people with angina say it feels like an elephant is sitting on their chest.

About 300,000 new cases of noncardiac chest pain are diagnosed annually in the United States, according to the Mayo Clinic. Studies have shown that anywhere between 22% and 66% of patients with noncardiac chest pain have GERD, which is caused by chronic acid reflux from the stomach into the esophagus.

The ambiguity in symptoms is caused by the fact that the nerves in the stomach and heart don’t clearly signal to the brain where pain originates.

Nerves in the chest are not as specific as nerves in, say, the hand, says Stephen Kopecky, MD, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Dr. Kopecky says if someone were to get hit with a hammer on their little finger, the person would be able to identify which finger was injured. But if someone were hurt in the heart, lungs, pancreas, esophagus, or stomach, in each case they may just feel pain coming from the chest.

“This makes for a real problem when diagnosing,” he says. “And about half of patients who have a heart attack have minor symptoms (or no symptoms) and do not seek medical attention.”

Helpful.  Yet not so much.

WebMD writes this:

Ideally, treatment to restore blood flow, such as angioplasty or clot-dissolving drugs, should begin within 1 hour after symptoms begin, the AHA says. The faster you can get to the emergency room, the better your chance of survival. And yet, one study found that half of people with heart attack symptoms delayed seeking help for more than 4 hours.

Familiarize yourself with these heart attack symptoms:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain in the center of the chest. These symptoms can range from mild to severe, and they may come and go.
  • Discomfort in other areas, such as the neck, arms, jaw, back, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath, lightheadedness, nausea, or breaking out in a cold sweat.

Women may get chest pain or discomfort, but in many cases, it’s not the most obvious symptom. Instead, they’re more likely than men to have these symptoms:

  • Unusual fatigue
  • Nausea or indigestion
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Abdominal discomfort that may feel like indigestion
  • Discomfort described as pressure/ tightness or an ache in the neck, shoulder, or upper back

In the weeks before an actual heart attack, some women may get these signs as a warning that an artery is blocked. If you develop unexplained fatigue, shortness of breath, or abdominal pressure that feels like indigestion, call your doctor, says Nieca Goldberg, MD, a cardiologist and chief of Women’s Cardiac Care at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “That’s the time to come in for an evaluation.”

Again, helpful…but not so much for today.

This information came from http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/angina/signs.html 

Stable Angina

The pain or discomfort:

  • Occurs when the heart must work harder, usually during physical exertion
  • Doesn’t come as a surprise, and episodes of pain tend to be alike
  • Usually lasts a short time (5 minutes or less)
  • Is relieved by rest or medicine
  • May feel like gas or indigestion
  • May feel like chest pain that spreads to the arms, back, or other areas

Unstable Angina

The pain or discomfort:

  • Often occurs at rest, while sleeping at night, or with little physical exertion
  • Comes as a surprise
  • Is more severe and lasts longer than stable angina (as long as 30 minutes)
  • Usually isn’t relieved by rest or medicine
  • May get worse over time
  • May mean that a heart attack will happen soon

Variant Angina

The pain or discomfort:

  • Usually occurs at rest and during the night or early morning hours
  • Tends to be severe
  • Is relieved by medicine

Microvascular Angina

The pain or discomfort:

  • May be more severe and last longer than other types of angina pain
  • May occur with shortness of breath, sleep problems, fatigue, and lack of energy
  • Often is first noticed during routine daily activities and times of mental stress

Guess what?!  I still don’t know what’s going on with my body.  But I know my paranoia is kicking into high gear.

More soon!

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