Find out why angina can cause vomiting.
Angina is a condition in which insufficient blood flow occurs in the heart due to narrowing of the coronary arteries from disease (plaque buildup), and hallmark symptoms are chest pain and shortness of breath.
However, angina can also cause vomiting.
In fact, vomiting can signal an imminent heart attack (more on this shortly). “Angina, especially if severe, can cause excessive stimulation of the autonomic nervous system leading to vomiting,” says Dr. Sameer Sayeed, a cardiologist at ColumbiaDoctors of Somers, NY.
“The anginal vomiting would likely be accompanied by some other anginal equivalent such as excessive sweating or shortness of breath or chest pain,” continues Dr. Sayeed.
A few days before my mother was diagnosed with unstable angina, she upchucked.
That same morning she had an alarming episode of difficulty breathing.
Two days later (after being diagnosed with unstable angina) she had emergency quintuple bypass surgery and had been days away from a massive heart attack, said three doctors.
The day prior to the symptoms, she had not eaten anything unusual; why was she upchucking?
This was so unlike her. I quickly connected the dots: difficulty breathing plus vomiting, although mild — an imminent heart attack!
Usually, vomiting signals a benign cause, such as a bad food source or substantial anxiety.
Dr. Sayeed explains, “In some cases, it may be hard to differentiate from bad food or anxiety, but in general, the patient would likely have risk factors for angina or a prior history of heart disease.
Anxiety and bad food would be short-lived causes, while the vomiting from angina could occur with each episode and perhaps persist until the underlying problem was fixed.”
Dr. Sayeed performs echocardiograms and stress tests at the Midtown Manhattan and Westchester offices at Columbia Doctors. He is also trained in cardiac CT imaging.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.
Top image: Shutterstock/InesBazdar