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4 Ways to Know if it’s Just Heartburn, or a Heart Attack

Maybe you’re not a hypochondriac, but when you get a sudden pain in the chest, you can’t help at least think about it: is that gas, or worse… a heart attack!

Okay, most of you probably aren’t that worried. But wouldn’t you like to know the difference between simple gas pains, and something much worse? In 2005, there were 445,687 deaths in the United States that were as a result of a heart attack or angina. That’s about one of every five deaths! So, maybe it is a good idea to know the difference, huh?

Heartburn can be caused by several things, including diet, acid reflux, or problems with the stomach lining. Even worse, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can actually lead to something called Barrett’s esophagus. That, in turn, is a risk factor for esophageal cancer. But you don’t have to worry about that unless you are constantly having trouble. If so, you should see your doctor.

So, when should you worry about a possible heart attack? Here are some warning signs from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Sudden pressure, tightening, squeezing or crushing pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes
  • Pain spreading to the back, neck, jaw, shoulders or arms — especially the left arm
  • Chest discomfort accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness or nausea
  • Pressure or tightness in the chest during physical activity or when you’re under emotional stress

(via: Mayo Clinic)

May 5th, 2009