Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - Parrish Medical Center - 17

Cardiac Problems

1. Myocarditis. This condition is often
mistaken for a heart attack because it
shares multiple symptoms, including
fatigue and shortness of breath, and it's
also serious. Myocarditis and an associated condition called idiopathic dilated
cardiomyopathy are the reasons behind
45 percent of heart transplants. But
myocarditis does not signal a blockage. Instead, the cause is inflammation
of the heart muscle caused by a virus.
Additional symptoms include fever and
a fast heartbeat. Myocarditis is treated
with medication and rest.
2. Pericarditis. Another condition
marked by inflammation, pericarditis
affects the sac that surrounds the heart.
Certain viruses can cause the sac to
become inflamed. Other symptoms of
pericarditis include sharp pain along
the neck or shoulder that worsens when
swallowing food or lying down. Most
cases of pericarditis are mild and resolve
on their own with rest and anti-inflammatory pain medication.

Digestive Problems

3. Heartburn. Acid reflux occurs when
digestive acids from the stomach back
up into the esophagus, and the hallmark symptom is a burning sensation in
the lower chest/upper abdomen known
as heartburn. Antacids should provide relief. If not, and you're not sure
whether it's just heartburn, call 911.
4. Peptic ulcers. These painful sores
in the lining of the stomach are more
common in people who smoke, drink
heavily, or frequently use aspirin or
NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory
drug) pain relievers. Treatment may
include medications and surgery; not
smoking and avoiding alcohol can help.

Respiratory Problems

5. Pneumonia. This infection of the
lungs causes chest tightness but will
also be accompanied by flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills and a cough
that may or may not produce phlegm.

Treatment may include antibiotics
and cough medicine.
6. Pulmonary embolism. When
a blood clot gets lodged in an artery
in the lungs, it's called a pulmonary
embolism and, like a heart attack,
it is life-threatening. In addition to
chest pain, symptoms include shortness of breath, cough and arrhythmia
(irregular heartbeat). Medications are
usually the first line of treatment.
7. Pneumothorax. Also known
as a collapsed lung, pneumothorax
is when air leaks from the lung into
the space surrounding it, and it's
often the result of an injury to the
chest. Pain is typically described as
sharp and is accompanied by shortness of breath. Doctors relieve
pressure on the lung by inserting a
needle or chest tube; surgery is sometimes required.

Musculoskeletal
Problems

8. Rib fracture. Broken ribs cause pain
in the chest that is worse with deep
breathing, coughing and sneezing. Pain
is usually localized, and the injury is
sore to the touch. Most people recover
with rest, ice and over-the-counter
pain medication.
9. Muscle strain. Weightlifting,
intense physical labor and even forceful
coughing can strain the chest muscles,
causing pain that worsens with activity
and is relieved with rest, ice and overthe-counter pain medication. ■

WHEN
CHEST PAIN
IS A HEART
ATTACK
As you can see, chest pain isn't always
something to fear. But it should never
be ignored. If it's not obvious that your
chest pain isn't a heart attack, it's best
to get to the hospital.
"We're not looking for people to
make that diagnosis themselves,"
says American Heart Association
spokesman Vincent Bufalino, MD.
"That's what we're here for. If we find
out it wasn't your heart, great. We'll
send you back home. But if you're
concerned about your symptoms,
we're concerned."
Bufalino says the telltale symptom of
a heart attack isn't a what but a when.
"Chest tightness, pressure or burning, or sometimes just shortness of
breath-the symptoms that concern
us are the ones brought on by exertion," he says. "Symptoms that come
on with activity and then relieve after
stopping, they should not be ignored."
Get help if everyday activities suddenly become difficult, Bufalino says.
"Everyone walking up two flights
of stairs gets a little winded," he says.
"But if now, going from one end of the
house to the other does it, and that's a
change, you need to be seen."
If you have chest pain that you think
could be a heart attack, or pain you
can't explain by another condition, call
911 or go to the emergency department right away.

QUIZ

Can You Recognize a Heart Attack?
The symptoms of a heart attack aren't always obvious. Find out how
well you can spot them. Visit heart.org and search "Can You Recognize
a Heart Attack?"

FALL 2018

17


http://www.heart.org

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