Dear Doctor, I have a few questions ... (1) Can the signs and symptoms of pneumonia (i.e. chest pain) mask the signs and symptoms of a heart attack? (2) If so, in what way? (3) Is it at all significant that a person is diagnosed with pneumonia, and then later found to have had a heart attack? (4) What can be done to help someone who had a heart attack 24-48 hours prior to coming to the hospital, and who also has pneumonia?
Pneumonia and a heart attack have a number of symptoms in common: chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness, light-headedness, palpitation and cough. Some heart attacks are "silent"; i.e., without symptoms and could be precipitated by the stress of pneumonia. It is not very common to have both pneumonia and a heart attack together.
A heart attack can result in lung congestion that could be mistaken for pneumonia. The first step would be to determine if one is indeed dealing with two separate problems. There are both invasive and non-invasive treatments for a heart attack but, to be effective, a number of them must be instituted within hours of the attack. This should be discussed with a cardiologist
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