Texas Health Dallas Researchers Examine Connection Between Nausea and Heart Attacks

Saturday, December 5, 2009 General News J E 4

American Journal of Cardiology paper sheds light on heart attack symptoms

DALLAS, Dec. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Researchers at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas are investigating what symptoms could help doctors better spot heart attacks and if certain symptoms might indicate different types of heart attacks. Their most recent work, "Relation of Nausea and Vomiting in Acute Myocardial Infarction to Location of the Infarct," appears in the December edition of the American Journal of Cardiology.

According to the findings, almost two-thirds of heart attack patients suffer nausea when arriving in the ER -- but whether they have an upset stomach does not indicate where cardiac blood flow is blocked, said senior author Dr. Mark Feldman, chair of internal medicine at Texas Health Dallas.

"Previous studies had suggested nausea and vomiting may be more common in patients with heart attacks in one part of the heart, but we found that there's not a strong connection," he said. "By studying what these symptoms mean and better understanding the signs of heart attacks, we're working toward better treatment of this disease."

A heart attack, or acute myocardial infarction (AMI), occurs when normal blood supply to the heart muscle is interrupted. Almost two million people in the United States suffer heart attacks each year -- with more than 500,000 deaths.

"Heart attacks can kill or cause major long-term health problems," said coauthor Dr. John Harper, a cardiologist at Texas Health Dallas. "It's a devastating event for a patient and their family. Our mission is to learn more about the signs and symptoms so that we can better care for these patients and, in some cases, prevent damage to the heart altogether."

Nausea and vomiting occur frequently in patients suffering heart attacks. Previous studies have reported that nausea and vomiting are much more common in heart attacks that involve the inferior, or back, portion of the left ventricle. These are not the most deadly type of heart attack.

Anterior heart attacks -- the most dangerous type of cardiac arrest -- often happen when the left coronary artery, called the "widow maker," is blocked.

"Our findings tell us that we should never make assumptions about the type of heart attack or where it's located based on nausea," Dr. Feldman said.

SOURCE Texas Health Resources


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