How to spot a false heart attack

Talking about false infarction can be strange, but it is a clinical picture that medicine describes and that associates multiple syndromes. It creates fear in those who have symptoms, and even confusion in health professionals.

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The false heart attack is characterized by chest pain, and that situation is already stressful. For anyone, chest pain is associated with a heart problem, triggering alarm and anxiety.

However, chest pain does not always come from the heart . In reality, most of the time, this type of pain does not mean something serious, but is associated with inflammatory or anxious problems. However, due to the certain possibility of a cardiac cause, it is carefully studied.

This is how the false heart attack appears. As its name implies, it is a clinical picture where the symptoms suggest the presence of a heart attack, but after all, another process is happening in the body.

There are several syndromes that lie behind the false heart attack, and although medicine recognizes its manifestation as such, there is no concrete agreement on which diseases are false heart attacks and which are not. Perhaps the only consensus is that which recognizes hyperkalemia as the main cause.

Hyperkalemia is the increase in potassium levels in the blood. When it appears, the patient feels chest pain and is accompanied by nausea or vomiting. The pain is so intense that it arouses suspicion of a heart attack. Furthermore, it is very common in diabetics and hypertensive patients, which increases the assumption.

Laboratories for false heart attack

A key issue in the care of patients with chest pain is the availability of nearby laboratories to run some basic tests. Among them, the troponin and the ionogram.

Troponin analysis detects the presence of this protein in the blood, which is indicative of an acute myocardial infarction when it is above certain values. The test is not totally sensitive, but it is estimated that it allows ruling out up to 60% of chest pains that are not heart attacks.

This simple determination would improve hospital admissions and reduce false diagnoses. The fact is that it is not available in all health centers, nor do all doctors request it.

The electrocardiogram is not as efficient as troponin in ruling out false infarcts. Sometimes some tracks in the study look like an ongoing heart attack, but not. This without taking into account that the electrocardiogram must be read correctly , unlike troponin, which expresses a round value.

The key symptom of false heart attack is chest pain, which generates anxiety and fear in patients.

Continue reading: Main causes of myocardial infarction

Broken heart syndrome

Behind the false heart attack we can mention a clinical picture known as broken heart syndrome . The symptom is, of course, acute and severe chest pain.

The diagnostic problem it poses is that it alters the electrocardiogram and can even vary laboratory values , simulating a heart attack that is not happening. These patients end up undergoing a cardiological intervention that finds the arteries in perfect condition.

The cause that causes it is a very powerful and sudden stress state, in general, derived from a distressing situation or bad news received. It has been described in people who receive bad news, such as the death of a family member.

The name of the syndrome has not always been the same, despite being a recently recognized pathology. It was previously called tako-tsubo cardiomyopathy , because the images of these hearts looked like a tako-tsubo , which is a vessel used by fishermen in Japan.

Broken heart syndrome evolves favorably at all times, with almost no complications. In a few weeks, patients regain their normal EKG and consistent laboratory values.

The heart is not always the source of chest pain, and hence the importance of differentiating serious causes from benign causes.

Find out more: The parts of the heart and their functions

Tietze syndrome

A common cause of false heart attack symptoms is costochondritis or Tietze syndrome. It is an inflammation of the cartilage that joins the ribs with the sternum .

It is frequent in young women and in people who have made a punctual effort with both upper limbs. It usually evolves benignly, disappearing within days or weeks without intervention. However, almost all patients are medicated with anti-inflammatory drugs.

Chest pain is what generates alertness . To distinguish it from a real heart attack, the doctor usually presses the ribs and the sternum, seeking to generate pain on palpation, which does not happen when the origin is cardiological.

Although it is a false heart attack, you must consult

As we said before, chest pain requires a study to rule out serious cardiological causes , including acute myocardial infarction. Therefore, we must consult a professional when we feel pain like this. It is very likely to result in a benign problem, but it will be the doctor who determines it and gives us the necessary guidelines.


by Abdullah Sam
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