March 12, 2018

Can a Stomach Problem Mimic a Heart Condition?

The Short Answer from a cardiologist

Can a Stomach Problem Mimic a Heart Condition?

Q.: Can a stomach problem mimic a heart condition?

A.: Yes, it can. It’s difficult for people — and sometimes for a physician — to tell the difference between a gastrointestinal problem and a heart problem.

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That’s why you want to talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing constant stomach pain. Describe your symptoms very carefully and clearly. The more you can tell your physician about your symptoms, the better job they can do to diagnose the problem and help you.

Sometimes people describe their pain by making a fist, and then clenching it like they’re squeezing something. When a patient comes into my office and says, “Whenever I exercise, I get this pain,” and they do this with their hand, it’s often heart disease. Another important clue is if there is pain that goes down the arm or goes up to the jaw.

It really takes a medical professional to interpret symptoms. Be sure you get good professional advice.

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— Cardiologist Steven Nissen, MD

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