Strange Symptoms: Indigestion signals heart attack
It was a typical December evening in 2005 for Doug Wardle, Senior Auditor for OhioHealth System Support. He sat down with his wife for dinner at 7 p.m. and felt the first tinge of indigestion. Thinking nothing of it, he finished his meal and went to bed later that night. He woke up a few hours later, still feeling the indigestion in his chest. He got out of bed and felt better. But every time he laid back down, the discomfort would return.
He called his primary care physician when the office opened at 8 a.m. and was told to go to the Emergency Department, “just to be safe.” But when he walked into the ED at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital, and told them his symptoms, “they jumped into action.” His first EKG showed normal results, but by this time, the feeling of indigestion was getting worse. And, he knew something wasn’t right. His hunch was confirmed during a catheterization, when the doctors found an artery with two blockages.
That indigestion that Doug couldn’t seem to shake was a heart attack. But, Doug says he never in a million years thought that was what was happening. He says, “It never felt like an elephant sitting on my chest, like you hear it described as.” Looking back he says, “I was in denial. I wanted to think it was indigestion. I had been exercising and into sports, so I didn’t think it was a heart problem. When I think about those days before the heart attack, the only warning sign I could identify was an occasional dull ache in my jaw, but nothing so severe that I would go to the doctor for it.”
The only symptom I had in the days before my heart attack was a dull ache in my jaw.
Doug was treated with stents, and completed cardiac rehabilitation at OhioHealth McConnell Heart Health Center. Since then, he has increased his exercise even more and watches what he eats. He has turned one of his favorite hobbies into a way to stay fit. He bikes as often as he can. “My goal every year is to ride 2,000 miles. I can happily report that I met that goal in 2015.” His advice for anyone when it comes to their heart health? “Don’t wait for an event to happen to you. Take precautions now.”
To learn more about heart care at OhioHealth, go to: www.ohiohealth.com/heartandvascular
Learn about the risk factors for heart disease that you can and can’t control, and use our online tools to assess those risks. You can find those tools here: Is your heart health at risk?