World Heart Day: Can a heart attack seem like flu?

World Heart Day: There are several common symptoms of heart attack that are mistaken for flu. Here's what's the difference between them.
rare disease
Be aware of the symptoms of both diseases. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Aayushi Gupta Updated: 29 Sep 2022, 12:58 pm IST
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There was a time when a runny nose, a few sneezes, a persistent cough, and wheezing were unmistakable signs of either a mild or severe cold or flu. However, in Covid-19 times, it’s difficult to say. Indeed, did you realize that these signs may also point to cardiac issues? Well, people may not be aware of it but there are a few common symptoms of flu and heart attack. So, in this article, we’ll talk about how to distinguish between these two health issues and their shared symptoms.

To find the answer and to better understand about the both the diseases, HealthShots spoke to Dr Narayan Gadkar, Cardiologist, Zen Multispeciality Hospital.

What are some common symptoms of flu and heart health issues?

Some common symptoms of the flu and heart attack are:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Cold sweat
  • Fatigue

The treating doctor is the right person to distinguish between the symptoms of a heart attack and flu.

How to differentiate between the symptoms of heart problems and flu?

Dr Gadkar says, “Although there is no connection between a heart attack and the flu, these two disorders do have several common symptoms.” Here, we explain how to distinguish between the signs and symptoms of the two illnesses.

1. Find the cause of nausea

Flu symptoms: Nausea and other gastrointestinal issues are seen when one is detected with flu. But there can also be other symptoms such as high fever, headache and muscle aches, cough, sore throat, and tiredness.

Heart attack symptoms: Likewise, when one gets a heart attack, he or she can have nausea and vomiting.

flu and heart attack
Feeling nausea may be one of the signs of heart issues. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Solution: It is better to know about the underlying cause of nausea or vomiting instead of dismissing it without any treatment.

2. Don’t take dizziness lightly

Symptoms: Other symptoms that one experiences during the flu are light-headedness or dizziness which are also the red flags of a heart attack or stroke. One will also get constant headaches.

Solution: Be attentive when it comes to your health and just seek timely intervention if you’re constantly experiencing dizziness and headache.

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Also, read: World Heart Day: 10 warning signs that could indicate deteriorating heart health

3. Cold sweat

Symptoms: Cold sweats can be the potential signs of a heart attack. But they can also indicate the flu.

Solution: If you feel better in a few days, it must be the flu. However, if cold sweats are becoming a daily affair check with your doctor.

4. Fatigue

Symptoms: Another symptom that is common between the flu and a heart attack is feeling fatigued. One may feel exhausted owing to the extra pressure on the heart, especially when it tries harder to pump blood.

flu and heart attack
Flu will also make you feel fatigued. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Solution: You need to know that excessive fatigue is one of the earliest symptoms of flu. So, be cautious and take charge of your health.

Is there any link between flu and heart problems?

Dr Gadkar says, “It can be safely said that there is no association between flu and heart problems. You need to know that flu is a viral infection that tends to take a toll on your respiratory system, meaning the nose, throat, and lungs. Moreover, heart problems occur in the heart muscle which doesn’t get enough blood. But, there are some symptoms that can be considered flu but may turn out to be heart attacks.”

One needs to consult the doctor when the symptoms appear and seek timely intervention. Do not neglect these symptoms.

To keep heart diseases at bay, follow these 5 tips:

1. Eat a healthy diet that is rich in vitamins, iron, minerals and veggies while low in calories. This can help reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation.

Also, read: Tomato flu to Nipah virus: Infections in the air

2. A sedentary lifestyle is the biggest risk for the heart. To strengthen your heart, move more and exercise regularly. You can perform aerobic exercises and resistance training.

3. Quit smoking! Smoking is one of the contributors to bad heart health. It reduces the blood flow to the heart which raises the risk of heart attack.

4. Sleep well in order to feel rejuvenated and healthy everyday. Having regular and sufficient sleep can help reduce the risk of heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure and depression.

flu and heart attack
Avoid things that disturb your sleep cycle. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

5. Keep your stress under control, or it can cause high blood pressure, which can cause heart attacks and strokes. Yoga and meditation are good ways to reduce stress.

Tips to prevent flu:

To prevent the flu from spreading, people should practice good hygiene practices such as covering their nose while sneezing, coughing into a tissue or handkerchief, and not touching their eyes, nose, or mouth.

If you have the flu, drink more liquids like water, juice, coconut water, or warm soups. Get enough sleep and rest. Consult your doctor about over-the-counter painkillers for a speedy recovery.

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About the Author

Aayushi Gupta is a health writer with a special interest in trends related to diet, fitness, beauty and intimate health. With around 2 years of experience in the wellness industry, she is connected to leading experts and doctors to provide our readers with factually correct information. ...Read More

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