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Don't mistake a heart attack for indigestion

Is it indigestion or a heart attack? Don't guess when it comes to your heart health.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — During Heart Health Awareness Month, Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Jackie Green says she wanted to share the importance of being educated on heart attacks. Green says many mistake a heart attack with indigestion.

When someone feels chest discomfort or pain in the shoulders jaw or left arm, it's most likely someone may be experiencing a heart attack.

What causes a heart attack?

One cause? A blockage in an artery. Green explains, "In the heart artery, plaque can develop in the inner lining of the vessel and if that plaque, which often has cholesterol and other particles in it, if the surface of the plaque cracks or breaks, it sets off a cascade in your body to form a blood clot,".

More problems can arise if someone has one hundred percent blockage in their arteries.

Green says, "If the blood vessels from the heart happen to close completely, then every minute the heart goes without blood flow leads to irreversible damage."

Doctors may treat an attack with a stent.

What is a stent?

Credit: phonlamaiphoto - stock.adobe.com
3d rendering balloon angioplasty procedure with stent in vein

Simply put, a stent is a metal scaffold that is mounted in the vessel to keep it open. Green says, "We work through the arm and selectively place that straw right at the start of those blood clots vessels. Then we take a wire that is about 0.14 inches in diameter and push the wire gently across the blockage. If it's a fresh blockage, oftentimes that blood clot dissolves quickly. Over the wire we have a balloon. We inflate the balloon and that pushes the plaque away. Once the blood vessel is clear, the stent is left, which is a metal scaffold that is mounted in the vessel."

How to prevent a heart attack?

Dr. Green says to stop smoking; even vaping is a threat. Check your blood pressure regularly and if you do experience the symptoms of chest discomfort, don't mistake it for indigestion. Dr. Green says to call 911 immediately.