HomeLocal NewsDoctors on call: Heartburn or heart attack?

Doctors on call: Heartburn or heart attack?

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Heartburn and heart attack symptoms are very similar. It is very important to understand the symptoms and know how to differentiate the conditions and your risk factors.

Heartburn, acid reflux or gastro esophageal reflux disease are all names of a chronic digestive system problem that stomach acids irritate the lining of your esophagus.

This irritation causes a burning sensation in your chest (heartburn) difficulty breathing and chest pain. The regurgitation of food can create a sore throat or a sensation of a “lump in the throat”.

There are a variety of conditions that will contribute to the development of heartburn. These conditions include, but are not limited to:

Obesity
Pregnancy
Smoking
Asthma
Diabetes

A patient commonly presents with acid reflux and one of the associated conditions. This indicates the cause of acid reflux and other conditions are linked together by similar lifestyle factors.

Lifestyle changes will help reduce the frequency of heartburn. Follow these recommendations:

Maintain a healthy weight. We often associate a healthy weight to outward physical appearance. There is also internal fat that surrounds organs you can not see.

Excess kilogrammes put pressure on your stomach internally which causes acid to back up into your esophagus. If your weight is healthy, work to maintain it. If you are overweight or obese, work to slowly lose weight

Avoid tight-fitting clothing. Clothes that fit tightly around your waist increase pressure on your abdomen.

Avoid foods and drinks that trigger heartburn. Everyone has different triggers; identify yours. Common triggers such as fatty or fried foods, tomato sauces, alcohol, chocolate, garlic, onion and caffeine are the most common. Avoid foods you know will trigger your heartburn.

Eat slower and smaller meals. Avoid overeating by eating smaller meals. Larger portions will take longer to digest and will put more pressure on the digestive system.

Don’t lie down after a meal. Wait at least three hours after eating before lying down or going to bed. Have gravity work for you.

Elevate the head of your bed. If you regularly experience heartburn at night, elevate the head of the bed. Place wood or cement blocks under the feet of your bed so the head end is slightly raised.

Don’t smoke. Smoking has been linked to added inflammation and adds a chemical stress to the respiratory and digestive systems.

Reduce stress. Proper stress management is critical in managing heartburn.

Diabetes is very closely linked to smoking, stress, maintaining a healthy weight and proper nutrition.
The foods that stimulate acid reflux symptoms such as fried and fatty foods also produce diabetes.

Highly processed food items away from their natural state add stress to the digestive system, contributing to the problem.

Inflammation of the body and digestive system is commonly caused by the amount of sugar-based food products that we consume.

These sugar products will promote imbalances in one’s weight and contribute to the development of diabetes.

Patients who exercise have less acid reflux symptoms. This may be due to better management of stress. Exercise has been proven to be an effective treatment in diabetes and encouraging weight loss.

Drug treatments

Unfortunately drug treatments and medications promote one not to change the underlying lifestyle factors that contributed to the condition.

These treatments may reduce heartburn and symptoms, but allow the dysfunctional lifestyle factors to continue. This will allow heartburn to progressively build to a heart attack.

Smoking, diabetes, inflammation and obesity are all causes of heart disease. Acid reflux is an early signal to stimulate a change in your lifestyle.

As healthcare professionals we encourage you to make a change today. Acid reflux is a very common condition that responds very well to conservative treatments.

Next week’s column will focus on men’s health. We have received a tremendous amount of emails regarding prostate health. Please email us further questions.

We will select and respond to the top five.

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If you have any health questions, send your mail to oncallaccess@gmail.com

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