Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Is it bothersome heartburn or a heart attack?

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In this week’s health talk, The Pioneer’s Shikha Duggal discusses with experts the modern twist on traditional relief from heartburn, its causes, and the differences.
Sharing an intriguing narrative that aligns with the evolving landscape of heartburn relief and a fresh perspective on over-the-counter (OTC) medications and home remedies, in this week’s health talk we are going to discuss a modern twist on traditional relief from heartburn, its causes, and the differences. Because of what’s happening in the quest for effective heartburn relief, patients are often faced with the choice between over-the-counter medications and traditional home remedies!
Dr. A. Ravikanth, the senior cardiologist from Kamineni Hospitals, says, “An overlap occurs between heartburn and heart attacks, both characterised by a burning sensation in the chest. The burning sensation associated with both heartburn and heart attacks originates from different sources. Heartburn, a common symptom of acid reflux, occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. The similarities in symptoms between heartburn and heart attacks often lead to confusion. Both conditions can cause chest pain or discomfort and even radiating pain to the arms, neck, or jaw. Additionally, symptoms such as nausea, shortness of breath, and fatigue may be present in both cases, further complicating the differentiation.” While doctors rely on a combination of patient history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests, still distinguishing between heartburn and a heart attack can be challenging! “Certain foods are known to trigger acid reflux, exacerbating the burning sensation associated with heartburn. Spicy and acidic foods, caffeine, chocolate, and fatty meals are common culprits. Additionally, lifestyle factors, such as excessive alcohol consumption and smoking, can contribute to the development of acid reflux. Identifying and avoiding these triggers can play a crucial role in managing heartburn symptoms,” continued the medical expert.
“Heartburn symptoms are usually short-lived and can be relieved with antacids. If chest pain persists for more than a few minutes, it may be more indicative of a heart attack,” shared Dr. Akash Chaudhary, the senior consultant in medical gastroenterology at Care Hospitals. At the same time, Dr. Amit Bhushan Sharma, the unit head of the cardiology department at Paras Health, defies further. “Heartburn is caused by high acid levels in the body. Acid that is normally in your stomach rises into your oesophagus, which is the tube that connects your mouth and stomach, and occasionally into your mouth, causing heartburn. The acid in your stomach is meant to dissolve foods and nutrients. Your stomach lining is strong enough, so it’s not affected by the acid. But the tissues lining the oesophagus are different from those lining the stomach. There may be a burning feeling in the oesophagus when acid enters it. It causes chest pain and discomfort. Although chest pain is a common symptom of both heartburn and heart attacks, the locations and experiences of the pain in the chest are slightly different. A burning feeling that originates in the upper portion of the stomach and spreads to the chest is commonly associated with heartburn. A painful feeling in the middle or left side of the chest, frequently referred to as pressure, squeezing, or fullness, is usually present during a heart attack.”
A heart attack can be ruled out with the use of an ECG, blood tests for cardiac enzymes, and imaging procedures such as angiography or echocardiography. Similarly, to confirm acid reflux or GERD, endoscopic exams or pH monitoring may be necessary.
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