Uncommon signs of a cardiac scare

The uneasiness 38-year-old advertising

professional Sachin Anand experienced one

night at his Napean Sea Road home was

quickly attributed to the double burger and

'large' fries he had devoured that afternoon.

"I assumed it was acidity," he says of the six

month-old episode. "I thought an antacid

would clear the indigestion, and I even tried

throwing up, but couldn't."

Within minutes, Anand experienced a

shooting pain in his chest, which exacerbated,

while the feeling of nausea got worse. "His

jaw went stiff, and he went cold," recalls his

mother Renu, who rushed him to Breach

Candy hospital.

What Anand thought was indigestion was, in

fact, a massive heart attack says his

cardiologist Dr Dev Pahlajani. The chest pain,

he explains, was due to blockages caused by

fatty deposits in an artery, cutting off blood

supply to the heart. This is called myocardial

infarction and could prove to be fatal.

Although most people associate angina or

heart attack with excruciating pain in the

centre of chest or behind breast bone, it's

often that the body sends uncommon signals

of a heart attack, that patients are unable to

decipher. Dr Ajay Chaurasia, head of

cardiology at Topiwala National Medical

College and BYL Nair Charitable Hospital,

says, "Pain related to heart attack is usually

retrosternal or felt behind the breast bone,

and can mimic a heartburn caused by

oesophagitis or acidity."

We get the experts to highlight unusual signs

of a cardiac scare that should raise a red flag.

Sign 1: Constant burping

You may again mistake this for a

gastrointestinal problem, but Pahlajani warns

that belching, especially while walking, could

be a symptom of angina or heart trouble.

"This occurs due to the redistribution of

blood to the intestines and stomach just

before a heart attack," he says.

Sign 2: Persistent pain in gums, teeth

People with periodontal or gum disease are

nearly twice as likely to suffer heart disease

than those with healthy gums, warn doctors.

That's because the same bacteria that cause

gum disease can also spark inflammation

inside the body, damaging blood vessels. "So

also," says Chaurasia, "pain in heart can

radiate up to the jaw."

Don't ignore a toothache or pain behind the

ears. "Pain occurs in this region because of

the referred pain in the distribution of the

nerves that arise from the thoracic spine,"

explains Pahlajani. "Occasionally, some

patients also come to me with unexplained

headaches, especially in the occipital region

of the head."

Sign 3: Poor performance in bed

A poor heart condition, apart from

dyslipidemia or abnormal amount of

cholesterol and fat in the blood, uncontrolled

diabetes and hypertension, may also affect

your sexual performance. A man experiences

an erection when blood is pumped into the

penis. Difficulty in maintaining an erection is

on account of poor circulation. Clogged

arteries are where poor sexual performance

and heart disease meet. Arteries harden due

to buildup of plaque. The smaller arteries in

the body, such as those in the penis, are the

first to get plugged up. Plaque reduces blood

flow in the penis, making an erection

difficult. So, erectile dysfunction is an alert

to look for blockage in larger arteries, like in

the heart.

Sign 4: Exhaustion

If you feel tired all day and have difficulty

performing simple tasks like walking, climbing

stairs, driving or carrying groceries, visit a

cardiologist. "Low output of blood from the

heart, the body's pumping station, into the

rest of the body can be a sign too," says


The common signals

Shooting pain in chest and left arm: Occurs

because the same spinal segment supplies the

heart and left upper limb

Chest pain after a meal: Blood supply to

the intestines increases after meals in order

to help digest food, and therefore blood is

diverted from the heart to the intestine,

which precipitates chest pain, if there's a

blockage says Pahlajani

Excessive sweating and palpitation: A

feeling that you are skipping a heartbeat or

fluttering in the chest is a sign of arrhythmias

(irregular heart beat).

Sudden loss of consciousness, dizziness,

breathlessness with no chest pain

(common among diabetics)

The upside of a heart scare

The sudden heart attack Sachin Anand (right)

suffered has "positively" changed his life. The

advertising professional who kept irregular

work hours now sleeps for at least seven

hours every night, makes time for a one-hour

daily walk despite his hectic schedule. He has

ended up dropping 14 kilos. "I have given up

junk food, red meat, smoking, colas and

alcohol. Occasionally, I sip on a glass of red

wine," he says.

Kofi Oppong Kyekyeku

I am a Ghanaian Broadcast Journalist/Writer who has an interest in General News, Sports, Entertainment, Health, Lifestyle and many more.

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