Heart attack: Dyspepsia can be a warning sign of the condition – what is it?

Heart attacks happen when an artery supplying your heart with blood and oxygen becomes blocked, usually by a blood clot. The most common underlying cause of blood clots is coronary heart disease (CHD), a process whereby coronary arteries (the major blood vessels that supply the heart with blood) become clogged with deposits of cholesterol. These deposits are called plaques and when this occurs a number of warning signs may be emanate indicating a heart attack may take place. Dyspepsia is one such warning.

What is dyspepsia?

A condition characterised by upper abdominal symptoms that may include pain or discomfort, bloating, feeling of fullness with very little intake of food , feeling of unusual fullness following meals, nausea, loss of appetite, heartburn, regurgitation of food or acid, and belching, said Medicine Net.

The site continued: "The term dyspepsia is often used for these symptoms when they are not typical of a well-described disease (for example, gastrointestinal reflux) and the cause is not clear.

"After a cause for the symptoms has been determined, the term dyspepsia is usually dropped in favour of a more specific diagnosis."

Heartburn is a common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), often called acid reflux, said Harvard Health.

The health site added: "Acid from the stomach bubbles up into the oesophagus, causing a painful burning just behind the breastbone.

"Not surprisingly, it's often mistaken for a heart attack.

"In fact, of the over eight million emergency room visits for chest pain each year, severe heartburn accounts for over half the cases in which actual heart problems are ruled out."

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In a study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, evaluation and management of dyspepsia was investigated.

The study noted: "Dyspepsia is a common clinical problem seen by both primary care physicians and gastroenterologists.

"Initial evaluation should focus on the identification and treatment of potential causes of symptoms such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcer disease, and medication side effects but also on recognising those at risk for more serious conditions such as gastric cancer.

"More research is needed to better understand the pathogenesis of functional dyspepsia, thus allowing development of better and more specific treatment." 

Heartburn is discomfort or actual pain caused by digestive acid moving into the tube that carries swallowed food to your stomach.

Experiencing this condition has a variety of medical reasons and does not always signal an impending heart attack.

Typical features of heartburn include:

Starts as a burning sensation in the upper abdomen and moves up into the chestUsually occurs after eating or while lying down or bending overMay awaken you from sleep, especially if you have eaten within two hours of going to bedIs usually relieved by antacidsMay be accompanied by a sour taste in your mouth — especially when you're lying downMay be accompanied by a small amount of stomach contents rising up into the back of your throat (regurgitation)

The most common heart attack signs include severe chest pain, having a radiating pain in your arm, and suddenly feeling very dizzy.

But you can lower your risk of a heart attack by making some small diet or lifestyle changes.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet will lower your chances of fatty deposits in your arteries.

If you think you, or someone you know, may be having a heart attack, it's crucial that you dial 999 straight away.

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