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Can Heart Problems Cause Stomach Pain

What Is Heart Disease

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Cardiovascular disease is characterized by the inability to supply an adequate amount of oxygenated blood to the heart due to the narrowing or blocking of arteries. This narrowing and blocking are caused by a buildup of fatty plaques. This buildup of plaque is dangerous because it can limit blood flow during physical activity, resulting in pain or pressure in the chest. Furthermore, when clots form, they can block off the blood flow completely, which will cause the individual to suffer a heart attack or a cardiac arrest. Narrowing and blocking of the arteries can occur elsewhere in the body as well, hindering blood flow and negatively affecting organ systems.

How Does Heart Disease Affect The Digestive System

Your heart pumps blood to every organ in the body including the digestive system. Heart disease, plaque or other conditions that interfere with the hearts ability to do its job can have a ripple effect on the rest of your body.

Your digestive system usually gets between 20-25% of the oxygenated blood pumped by the heart, with this amount doubling after you eat and your body needs to work to digest the meal. Unfortunately, if your heart isnt able to send enough blood to your stomach, it can cause severe issues from sharp abdominal pain to diarrhea, nausea or vomiting after a meal.

This can also create a feedback loop, since its not uncommon for people experiencing these issues to avoid eating, causing rapid and unhealthy weight loss and making it hard for them to maintain the activity they need to strengthen their overall health!

The reverse is also true the digestive system can also affect the heart. When someone has an inflammatory bowel disease, the intestinal barrier is affected, no longer protecting the rest of your body from dangerous bacteria. This bacteria, once entering the blood stream, can contribute to heart conditions and even chronic heart failure.

Thats why its important that you speak with your doctor about any recurring digestive or stomach issues as soon as possible.

How Does The Gut Affect The Heart

Your gut or digestive tract probably isnt the first series of organs youd consider when you think of cardiovascular diseases.

However, some bacteria in your microbiome wont only disturb your digestive health but harm your other body systems, too. And that includes your cardiovascular system.

This is because the human microbiome is composed of trillions of microbes, including:

  • protozoa
  • bacteria
  • viruses

These microorganisms live in and on the human body. In fact, an individual has around 38 trillion bacteria living in their gastrointestinal tract.

Most of these bacteria are beneficial. They help in your digestion and stimulate your immune system to fight harmful organisms.

But an unhealthy gut may increase inflammation and lead to negative health problems since 70% of your immune cells are actually in your gut.

Then, when you have inflammation in your gut, the substances, and chemicals that shouldnt leave your stomach, including those that are caused by bad gut bacteria, can go to your blood and anywhere else in your body.

This instance can cause damage to your blood vessels. And when your blood vessels are affected, they become stiff and lose their elasticity. They dont function properly, which results in plaque buildup and atherosclerosis or the hardening of the arteries.

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How Is Noncardiac Chest Pain Diagnosed

If you experience chest pain that resembles cardiac chest pain, you should go to the emergency room. On arrival, you’ll receive a complete physical exam that measures all of your vital signs, including blood pressure and heart rate. Then youll be screened for heart attack or heart disease. Tests include an electrocardiogram a noninvasive test that records your hearts electrical activity and blood tests. Your heart releases certain proteins when a heart attack occurs that will show up in a blood test. Only when cardiac factors have been ruled out will you be diagnosed with noncardiac chest pain.

Once a cardiologist or your primary care provider has ruled out cardiac causes, youll likely be referred to a gastroenterologist next. Theyll test you for esophagus-based causes, starting with GERD. One way of testing is to send you home with a proton-pump inhibitor , a highly effective medicine for GERD. If the PPI relieves your symptoms, it can also confirm their cause. Other tests may include a PH study of the esophagus, an esophageal motility test, an upper endoscopy or ultrasound. In addition to physical tests, your healthcare provider will take a medical history and ask about your stress and emotional factors.

Protect Your Heart With Healthy Habits

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Given the connection between the gut and your heart, a healthy dietin conjunction with a healthy lifestyleis an important component of heart disease prevention. Learning about your ideal calorie count and how you can engage in regular physical activity is key. “In order to improve your heart health, education is foundational,” says Kara. “Learning what foods to eat, how to exercise, and how to manage stress.”

The American Heart Association recommends at least 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity, 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, or an equal combination of both every week: “Regular physical activity can help you maintain your weight, keep off weight that you lose and reach physical and cardiovascular fitness.”

Whole grains, avocado, fish and fish oil, beans, and leafy greens are a must for a healthy heart, according to Karain addition to drinking enough water. “Water is one of the foundational components that keeps our body and all of its systems functioning at their best, so drinking enough during the day is essential for your health,” he says.

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Medications For Heart Failure

Certain medications can help treat heart failure and its underlying cause:

  • Aldosterone blockers block the effects of the hormone aldosterone, encouraging the body to release sodium and water. They also help prevent scarring in the heart.
  • Angiotensin receptor-neprilysin inhibitor : Treatment with sacubitril-valsartan reduces excess fluid in the body and relaxes blood vessels. This makes it easier for your heart to pump blood. Alternatives to ARNIs include angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors andangiotensin receptor blockers .
  • Beta blockers make the heart beat more slowly and with less force. They also help keep heart rhythm regular.
  • Sodium-glucose transport protein 2 inhibitors are diabetes drugs that have recently been found to be very beneficial in heart failure. They help remove glucose via the kidneys into the urine.

Other medications can relieve the heart failure symptoms:

  • Diuretics reduce the amount of fluid in the body.
  • Vasodilators dilate the blood vessels and reduce the hearts workload.
  • Digoxin helps the heart beat stronger with a more regular rhythm.
  • Anti-arrhythmics control arrhythmia and maintain normal heart rhythm.

Surprising Heart Attack Symptoms Women Should Never Ignore


Heart disease remains the number-one cause of death for women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . In fact, according to a 2017 study conducted by the University of Leeds and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and published in the Journal of the American Heart Association , women are much more likely to die following a heart attack than men are. The reason? Women are more likely to dismiss their symptoms or wait too long to report them.

Why do female heart attack symptoms so often get disregarded? Well, for one, they aren’t as easy to recognize. Heart attack symptoms in a woman can look and feel very different from the better-known symptoms that tend to affect men. In contrast to the big, loud physical indicators in males, female heart attack symptoms tend to be more nuanced and manifest in concert. That is why women should never ignore these unusual symptoms, especially if they experience more than one at the same time:

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Heart Attack Warning Signs And Symptoms: Digestive Problems


Nausea or feeling sick on your stomach is a less common but possible symptom of a heart attack. Sometimes belching or burping can accompany nausea, and some patients have described a feeling like indigestion associated with a heart attack. Women are more likely than men to report these less typical symptoms of heart attack, and some patients have described feeling as though they are developing the flu.


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You can reduce or eliminate the discomfort of GERD symptoms by taking a few simple steps. These include:

  • Avoiding fast food
  • Exercising regularly with an empty stomach
  • Avoiding stress

If you notice that your GERD symptoms are interfering with your daily life or drastically restricting what you can eat, consider talking with your doctor about treatment options, says Dr. Purcell.

If you need further treatment, your doctor can help you find a treatment that works best for you and will help you find relief from GERD.

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Symptoms Of A Heart Attack

Heart attacks often but not always happen with classic symptoms:

  • chest pain that is often described as pressure, squeezing, heaviness, tightness, fullness, or ache
  • chest pain that feels like a very heavy weight crushing against the chest
  • pain may come and go, but lasts for more than a few minutes

Not all heart attacks give the same symptoms. Symptoms can be mild or severe, and some people experience no symptoms at all.

The chest pain or discomfort is usually central or central-left, but it might not be. The pain may spread to other areas. It can affect one or both arms, the neck, jaw, or upper or mid-back.

Heart attack often comes with other symptoms:

  • breaking out in a cold sweat
  • being short of breath
  • feeling very tired or lacking in energy
  • feeling dizzy or lightheaded

People who may be less likely to experience symptoms when having a heart attack include older people and those with diabetes. These people may still show other symptoms though, such as breathlessness.

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Heart failure is the term used for the condition describing the inability of the heart to keep up with the demands on it, specifically the failure of the heart to pump blood with normal efficiency. When this occurs, the heart is unable to provide adequate blood flow to other organs such as the brain, liver and kidneys. Heart failure may be due to failure of the right or left or both ventricles. When the blood flowing out of the heart is slower in comparison to the blood being brought in through the veins, the blood starts backing up causing congestion in the tissues and organs of the body. Due to this, different parts of the body such as the liver, abdomen, legs may develop swelling or edema. Heart failures that cause this congestion are known as congestive heart failure. Reduce or blockage in regular ventricular function is characteristic of congestive heart failure.

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History And Physical Exam

A clinician listens to your heart and lungs and measures your blood pressure and weight. They will also ask about your:

  • Familys medical history, especially previous cardiac problems
  • Lifestyle
  • Medications, including prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs and supplements
  • Personal medical history

Blood tests can measure several things related to heart failure:

  • Sodium and potassium levels
  • Creatinine, which helps measure how well your kidneys are working
  • B-type natriuretic peptide , a hormone released from the ventricles in response to increased wall tension that occurs with heart failure

Heartburn And Heart Attack Pain Can Be Similar Learn The Difference

Nausea? Heartburn? Stomach Pain? You Might Have a Hernia

Youre relaxing at home after a delicious meal. You notice you dont feel quite right. You have an upset stomach. There is a burning sensation in your chest area.

Is it heartburn from indigestion? Could it be a heart attack?

Chest discomfort is the most common symptom of a heart attack, which can be life-threatening. But it can also be a sign of heartburn, which has nothing to do with the heart and is a common symptom of indigestion.

It can sometimes be difficult to tell one from the other. Learning the difference can help you protect your heart health and know when to seek medical attention.

If youre not sure if its heartburn or a heart attack, and your chest pain is persistent seek medical help right away, says Kiyon Chung, MD, a Scripps cardiologist. You will be checked immediately to rule out a heart attack. If your chest pain turns out to be a heart attack, doctors will work to lessen any heart damage.

If its indigestion, youll want to make sure it doesnt become a chronic problem. You may be able to find quick relief taking an over-the-counter antacid or other medication.

What is indigestion?

Heartburn is a symptom of indigestion or acid reflux. It happens when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, the food pipe that connects the throat to the stomach. This backflow causes a burning feeling or pain in the chest. Another symptom is regurgitation, which is when food rises in the back of the throat.

What is a heart attack?

Symptoms of heart attack

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Causes Of Abdominal Pain

The abdomen contains several important organs that can all be affected by abdominal pain. The intestines, stomach, kidneys, spleen, gallbladder, liver, and pancreas are all situated in this region of the body.

A problem with one organ can often cause pain in the entire area, making it difficult to identify the exact source of the pain. Infections are the most common cause of acute abdominal pain, but abnormal growths, inflammation, blockages, and digestive disorders can also be the cause.

Because of the close proximity of the heart to the chest area above the abdomen, problems with the heart can also cause pain to radiate to the abdominal area. Indigestion commonly causes acid reflux and heartburn, which causes pain in the chest.

Stomach pain, nausea, and indigestion can also be symptoms of heart disease or a heart attack. Women are especially likely to experience these symptoms in association with a heart attack.

Conditions Associated With Abdominal Pain

Digestive issues are usually the cause of most cases of abdominal pain, but in some cases, there can be a more serious issue underlying the pain. There are several medical conditions linked to abdominal pain that need treatment, so ignoring prolonged or sharp abdominal pains is not an option.

Heart attack: Some people experience stomach pains before a heart attack, especially women. When combined with shortness of breath and chest pain, abdominal pain should not be ignored.

Stroke: Stroke survivors often report indigestion and stomach pains after a stroke, but abdominal pain can also be a sign of a stroke. A TIA , in particular, has been associated with stomach pains and vomiting, along with facial muscle changes and slurred speech.

GERD: Gastroesophageal reflux disease causes frequent heartburn as a result of acid repeatedly flowing backward into the esophagus. The pain is typically felt in the upper abdominal area and chest and can be confused with heart pains.

IBD: Inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease cause mass inflammation through the intestines. This causes severe abdominal pain as well as frequent digestive issues, especially during flare-ups.

Infections: Viral and bacterial infections are common causes of abdominal pain and are typically relieved once medications are taken or the virus passes through the digestive tract.

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Stomach And Chest Pain

Although commonly associated with heart attacks, stomach and chest pain can also be related to issues with various areas of your body including your intestines, lungs, muscles, ribs, and/or nerves.

Regardless of the cause, chest and abdominal pain is not something that should be ignored. Though pain or discomfort in these areas is commonly associated with a heart attack, know that there are many other possible causes. Other common causes of chest and abdominal pain could include gas, appendicitis, or even gallstones.

If you are at all worried about your symptoms, dont wait to head into one of Complete Cares freestanding ER locations. Our 24/7 walk-in locations are fully equipped with professional medical staff prepared to diagnose and treat your stomach and chest pain symptoms.

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The most common cause of heart attack, as mentioned earlier, is due to clots in the arteries of your heart. When the heart attack occurs, it begins with pressure, squeezing pain in your chest, and cramping. The pain may also spread through your jaw to the neck, as well as your back and your arm. There is also discomfort associated with a heart attack in your upper body and left side. During a heart attack, the diaphragm and associated nerves may also become irritated and cause pain somewhere referring to the area, including your shoulders and neck. However, this sign of heart attack is more common in females as compared to males.

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If You’re Worried Get Checked Out

If you have symptoms that you are unsure about, see your healthcare provider. And go to the emergency room if you have chest tightness, break into a sweat, turn pale, become very weak, or faint.

If you have chest discomfort that’s mild or passes when you’re at rest, an emergency visit may not be necessary, but Dr. Alexander Nickens recommended seeing a doctor as soon as possible. A healthcare provider can use a blood test to see if you’ve had a mild heart attack or other heart problems.

Dr. Alexander Nickens also recommended annual checkups for anyone with heart disease risk factors even if they aren’t having any chest pain or discomfort, and more frequent visits for those with specific risk factors such as diabetes and hypertension, which is particularly likely to increase the risk of a heart attack.

If you have chest pain that seems to be stomach-related, antacids should improve symptoms. And taking an aspirin, which is a blood thinner, may bring relief for those suffering from heart problems and decrease the chance of having a heart attack or death, said Dr. Alexander Nickens.

If a heart attack is treated promptlyâwithin 90 minutes of when symptoms startâthe damage to heart muscle may be minimized. “In terms of a heart attack, time is muscle,” said Dr. Gardin.

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