Can Hot Spicy Food Cause a Heart Attack?

Assorted chili peppers on peppercorns
Eating hot and spicy foods alone won't induce a heart attack, but eating the wrong types of foods can contribute to the possibility. (Image: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images)

A heart attack is a scary occurrence that can impact your health and diet for the rest of your life. A healthy diet filled with fruits, vegetables and fiber can help lower your risk for a heart attack, but you may be wondering if certain foods, such as hot, spicy foods, can cause a heart attack. When you are able to pinpoint the causes of a heart attack, you will also be able to modify your diet accordingly to lower your risk and maintain good health.

Symptoms

A heart attack occurs when a blood clot blocks blood flow to your heart, which most commonly causes pressure and chest pain, two symptoms that can also be associated with indigestion or heartburn from hot and spicy foods. Nausea and vomiting, two additional heart attack symptoms, may also occur with heartburn or indigestion from a spicy meal. If you are truly having a heart attack, you may also experience pain that radiates to your shoulder, jaw or upper arms, and you may also suffer from shortness of breath, sweating and fainting, all of which are symptoms that are not usually associated with heartburn or indigestion from spicy foods. Women may also experience abdominal pain, clamminess, dizziness or fatigue with a heart attack, also symptoms that do not usually accompany indigestion.

Causes

Because a heart attack is caused by a blocked artery, a high-cholesterol diet can be one dietary cause. When you eat too much cholesterol, it begins to stick to your artery walls, which narrows them and makes it more difficult for blood to pass through normally. In this way, diet does play a role in how likely you are to have a heart attack, but hot and spicy foods alone cannot cause a heart attack. If you enjoy spicy food that is also deep-fried or full of saturated fat, they may contribute to your risk of heart disease, but the hot and spicy food alone is not a cause of a heart attack.

Spicy Food

Because you may experience heartburn or indigestion from eating spicy foods, you may confuse your symptoms with those of a heart attack. Spicy foods can cause chest pain, nausea, vomiting and heartburn, which may cause you to wonder if you are having a heart attack. If you experience any of these following a spicy meal, they are likely to ease after a few hours. If the symptoms continue or get worse, call your doctor right away because coincidences happen and you might be having a heart attack despite what you ate right before.

Recommendations

If you find that you have indigestion or heartburn following a spicy meal, reduce how much of these foods you eat or eliminate them from your diet completely. See your doctor on a regular basis to discuss ways to treat indigestion and heartburn from spicy foods if you do not want to give them up. This may give you peace of mind by treating or preventing the symptoms that mimic a heart attack. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meat and low in sweets, fatty red meat and full-fat dairy foods as well. A nutritious and well-balanced diet is one of the most important ways to lower your heart attack risk. Exercise is essential as well.

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