With heart diseases being one of the major causes of death in India, it is perhaps not surprising that most people presume any pain in the chest area to be an attack.
As a result, in a large number of cases a patient is rushed to the hospital, only to find that it is a mere heartburn.
To prevent the panic following a presumed attack, the victim and the people around him must exhibit the capacity to use the resources at their disposal and differentiate between the two.
According to Dr Vijay Kundal, HoD Medicine, GMC, Jammu, “The majority of victims who make it to the hospital are of non-cardiac origin.”
One of the earliest distinguishing symptoms between a heartburn and a cardiac arrest, doctors say, is that the latter is often accompanied with breathlessness. “Heartburn does not cause symptoms such as breathlessness.
On the other hand, a cardiac arrest does not cause bloating or belching, which are common in case of a heartburn,” says Dr Piyush Jain, Head Preventive Cardiology, Fortis Escorts institute here.
Jain says the uneasiness from heartburn can be treated with drugs that regulate the acid levels in stomach.
According to him, heartburn and heart attacks, though having striking similarities in symptoms, have absolutely nothing in common when spoken about in medical terms.
While the latter is essentially an ailment, a heartburn is merely a symptom, he says.
“We should know that heartburn is a symptom and not a disease itself and more importantly, though the pain is located in the chest, it is not related to heart in any way. It is basically an acid reflux from stomach to the food pipe. “A heart attack takes place when there is a loss of blood supply to part of the heart muscle,” says Jain.
As far as medical diagnosis is concerned, Dr Devi Prasad Shetty, cardiac surgeon and Founder of Naryana Health, a Bangalore based health speciality chain, the two can be easily distinguished in seconds with a “simple test” called ‘CT angio’.
“CT angio is a phenomenal test. It takes five seconds for the doctor to know about the problem with this. It’s like taking a photo. Moreover, it can predict heart attacks even 5-10 years aMhead,” says Shetty.