Heart burn, or heart attack? Sometimes it can be hard to tell.
Matt Breen, Reporting, "Judith from Sioux City is asking, 'How would one know the difference between heart burn and heart attack?'" Dr. Ramin Artang, Mercy Cardiology says, "This is a challenge to figure out sometimes particularly if the other typical signs of heart attack are not present initially when the person shows up to the Drs. Office or ER. So if there are EKG changes, and other signs in the blood, then there is no doubt when a person complains of chest discomfort, heart burn, or pain. But when the heart burn is the only sign, it is not often easy to figure out unless we do further testing. The nerves around the heart and stomach are closely related and the brain can be confused about what may be going on in this area. There is a particular vessel that supplies the back wall of the heart that can cause heart burn like symptoms so we take these signs seriously when we have a person with risk factors, in order not to loose the big picture. If the person is not used to have heart burn, that's when we get worried."
Matt Breen, Reporting, "Donald from Sioux City is asking, 'How would one have a heart attack without knowing it. So called silent heart attack?'" Dr. Ramin Artang, Mercy Cardiology says "There are 2 options for that. One is no one had a heart attack but we think person might have had a heart attack based on the EKG tracing. Sometimes placement of the leads, large chest can cause changes of EKG not really due to heart disease. It is usually very easy, to do an ultrasound of the heart or sometimes more sophisticated tests the get the answer. The other type is the true silent heart attack, where actually an attack happened but it was thought to be heart burn, or pneumonia where the person might have felt poorly for a few days and then recovered. Another one is particularly in diabetic patients who loose the sensation of chest pain."