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Step 4: Read and complete the decision guide to learn more about your symptoms.

Recurring Abdominal Pain

Because of your risk for heart disease, you must consider the small chance that your pain could be a heart symptom.

Your pain may be angina, a symptom that is caused when your heart muscle is not getting enough blood.

You urgently need to discuss your symptoms with your doctor.

The fact that you have chest symptoms makes a cardiac (heart) evaluation a high priority. Angina is sometimes felt in the abdomen, and it is sometimes provoked by meals. It is possible to have angina after eating if your blood flow adjusts after meals to give more blood to the digestive organs and less blood to your heart muscle. This change in blood flow occurs in some people after meals.

If your abdominal pain is brought on by exercise, or if you have sweating or shortness of breath accompanying your pain, this too could suggest that you are experiencing angina.

Your doctor may wish to start your evaluation with a "stress test" for coronary artery disease. Several different stress tests are available.

Less dangerous causes of your symptoms are, of course, possible. After your doctor considers heart disease as a possible source of your pain, tests that might be used to find the cause of your abdominal pain include

  • treatment with antiacid medicines, to see if this helps

  • endoscopy (a video evaluation of the esophagus and stomach)

  • a barium swallow x-ray test

  • an ultrasound of the abdomen.

Diagnoses that fit well with your symptoms include

  • gallstones

  • gastritis

  • gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

  • indigestion (dyspepsia)

  • peptic ulcer disease.


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