Is it a heart attack? Or just a case of the flu?
“The symptoms of a heart attack can be severe and unmistakable, such as the classic intense chest pain, or they can be much more subtle,” says Syed N. Ahmed, M.D., a cardiologist at Sutter Gould Medical Foundation. “They can be so mild they are mistaken for other, less serious health problems, such as the flu or dental issues.”
Heart attacks are usually due to heart disease. Over several years, plaque builds up in the coronary arteries. If a piece of plaque breaks open, a blood clot will form around the ruptured area. If the clot is large enough, it can completely block the flow of blood to the heart muscle, causing a heart attack. If blood flow is not quickly restored, the tissues will begin to die.
In most cases, the heart does not stop beating during a heart attack. But the longer treatment is delayed, the more damage can occur.