Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
Heart attacks often but not always happen with classic symptoms:
- chest pain that is often described as pressure, squeezing, heaviness, tightness, fullness, or ache
- chest pain that feels like a very heavy weight crushing against the chest
- pain may come and go, but lasts for more than a few minutes
Not all heart attacks give the same symptoms. Symptoms can be mild or severe, and some people experience no symptoms at all.
The chest pain or discomfort is usually central or central-left, but it might not be. The pain may spread to other areas. It can affect one or both arms, the neck, jaw, or upper or mid-back.
Heart attack often comes with other symptoms:
- breaking out in a cold sweat
- being short of breath
- feeling very tired or lacking in energy
- feeling dizzy or lightheaded
People who may be less likely to experience symptoms when having a heart attack include older people and those with diabetes. These people may still show other symptoms though, such as breathlessness.
What Do Heart Palpitations Feel Like
Heart palpitations can cause a fluttering sensation in the chest or a feeling that your heart has skipped a beat. You may also feel like your heart is beating too fast or is pumping harder than normal.
If you have GERD, you may sometimes feel tightness in your chest, but this isnt the same as having heart palpitations. Some symptoms of GERD, such as air being trapped in the esophagus, may cause palpitations.
When There Are High Cholesterol Levels In The Body
There are different ways to measure cholesterol in the body. You may be familiar with total cholesterol, LDL cholesterolalso known as the bad cholesterol, and HDLaka the good cholesterol, and how these levels affect heart health. You may also know how too much of this fatty substance can also lead to a buildup of fat in the arteries, which may cause atherosclerosis, a disease that slows or stops blood flow.
But having too much cholesterol in the body can cause other health problems, specifically, it may cause the formation of gallstones. There are two types of gallstonescholesterol stones and pigment stones. Cholesterol stones are made mostly of hardened cholesterol, and are usually yellowish-green in color, while Pigment stones are made of bilirubin, and are the stones are usually small and dark in color. Cholesterol stones are the most common type of gallstone to develop, occurring in approximately 80% of patients with gallstones.
Gallstones can be as small as grains of sand or as big as golf balls. Smaller stones are more common, though bigger stones do develop.
Don’t Miss: Will Apple Cider Vinegar Stop Heartburn
Heartburn Or Heart Attack
What does heartburn have to do with your heart? Nothing, actually!
Despite its name, heartburn or acid indigestion is related to your esophagus. But because the esophagus and heart are located near each other, either one can cause chest pain which is why many people mistake heart burn for angina and vice versa.
Your Heartburn Is Actually A Neurological Problem
Heartburn is a very common problem that affects approximately 20% of the general public. It is commonly associated with symptoms such as bloating after meals, belching, burning of the stomach or below the breastbone , bitter taste in the mouth and regurgitation of stomach acid.
Most people assume heartburn is a condition of excessive acid production. This is understandable since we use antacids to decrease acid production and our symptoms seem to improve.
But in reality, heartburn is a neurological problem. Patients with heartburn have excessive stomach acid accumulation not production. Acid accumulates because it is not being emptied correctly by the stomach. Just as a sink will overfill if the drain doesnt empty correctly, so will your stomach.
The poor emptying is also accompanied by an ineffective valve between the esophagus and the stomach that allows stomach acid to splash back up into the esophagus and results in the burning sensation in the chest, the regurgitation of acid and belching.
Your Intestinal Tract is A One-Way Conveyor Belt
The intestinal tract is in essence a one-way conveyor belt pushing your intestinal contents forwards. Food should pass through the mouth into the esophagus, from the esophagus into the stomach, then through the small and large intestines and finally passed out the rectum.
The poor functioning of the stomach is because your autonomic nervous system is not working correctly.
Heart Burn and the Autonomic Nervous System
Recommended Reading: Home Remedies For Bad Heartburn
Heartburn Or Heart Attack How To Tell The Difference
Chest pain can be scary. And its not always easy to tell the difference between heartburn and a heart attack especially since heartburn-like symptoms can be from a heart attack. Columbus Batiste, MD, an interventional cardiologist and chief of cardiology at Kaiser Permanentes Riverside and Moreno Valley Medical Centers in Southern California, breaks down the symptoms and details the importance of knowing if youre at risk for heart disease.
What is heartburn?
Heartburn is discomfort or pain that occurs when food and stomach acid back up into the esophagus the tube that leads from the throat to the stomach.
Common indicators of heartburn include:
- A burning sensation in the chest or stomach
- Foul breath and a sour, acidic, or metallic taste in the mouth
- Increased gas or belching
- Coughing, especially when lying down
- Symptoms start after eating or lying down
You should be able to relieve your symptoms by taking an antacid, like Tums or Rolaids, or by drinking a glass of water with a spoonful of baking soda stirred in it. If heartburn is keeping you from sleeping, propping yourself up in bed can help.
Contact your doctor for advice if an antacid doesnt temporarily ease your symptoms, this is the first time youve had heartburn, or your symptoms have changed.
Heart attack signs can vary greatly
- Back discomfort
Silent heart attacks are common
Another cause of chest pain
Risk factors for heart disease
Unexplained Pain Of Any Type In Your Upper Back Needs To Be Checked By A Doctor Since This Can Mean An Imminent Heart Attack Or Just Some Gerd Or Even Occasional Heartburn
GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease and is not the same as periodic heartburn or acid reflux.
GERD is when the acidic contents of the stomach reflux upward into the esophagus on a chronic or ongoing basis.
Over time this can lead to a condition called Barretts esophagus, which is a risk factor for esophageal cancer.
The hairy problem with GERD or occasional heartburn is that both can cause chest pain which scares people into thinking theyre either having a heart attack or have something else going on with their heart.
First and foremost recurrent chest pain should be examined by a physician to rule out heart disease, says John P. Geibel, MD, Professor of Gastrointestinal Surgery at the Yale University School of Medicine.
GERD, acid reflux and a pending heart attack or even stable angina can also cause pain in the back.
Dr. Geibel explains that acid reflux can and most often leads to irritation of the esophagus lining that causes mild to severe erosion that can give a widespread burning pain that affects the chest, abdomen and sometimes even the upper back.
Upper back pain can be caused by an assortment of medical conditions, and even though it can be caused by acid reflux, this is not common.
However, if youve noticed that your upper back pain occurs only when you experience occasional heartburn , see what happens when you begin treating this heartburn.
TummyZen is an over the counter zinc-based formula thats validated by Dr. Geibels research.
Don’t Miss: Is Heartburn A Sign Of Stomach Cancer
What To Do If You Suspect A Heart Attack
Always call 999 if youre worried the main reason people die from a heart attack is not seeking help soon enough. If you suspect youre having a heart attack, and can safely take aspirin, chew and swallow one tablet as that can start to thin the blood. Then lie down with your head propped up and wait for help to arrive, says Dr Chitkara.
Dont go hunting for any aspirin if you dont have some nearby the exertion of climbing stairs to the bathroom cabinet could put extra strain on your heart. Stay calm and remember that help is on its way.
Once they receive professional medical care, most people who have a heart attack make a full recovery. Within a few months you should be back on your feet and back to normal life.
Does Everyone Get The Same Heart Attack Symptoms
No and this is when things get complicated. About 10% of people get an atypical presentation where they feel chest pain but its not bad enough to immediately seek help, says consultant interventional cardiologist Dr Kamal Chitkara of BMI The Park Hospital in Nottingham. This is particularly common in people with diabetes where the nerves can sometimes alter sensation so pain isnt felt as acutely.
Those who have had slowly progressing heart disease also dont always get a severe pain. Dr Archbold says, If youve had a progressive narrowing of the arteries, your body will actually create new channels, called collaterals, through which blood flows. During a heart attack when that narrowed artery finally blocks the collaterals still work, reducing your symptoms such as chest pain.
You May Like: What Is The Best Home Remedy For Heartburn
Identify The Signs Of Gas
There are noticeable differences between the feeling of gas and a heart attack. When its gas, youll likely experience the following:
- Passing gas through your backside
- Quick, sharp pains that suddenly come and end
If its heartburn, itll happen soon after eating or it can awaken you from sleep after a couple of hours. Youll feel the burning stomach acid moving up from your stomach into your throat. Youll probably taste something sour in your mouth as well.
Taking antacids is one of the best home remedies of chest pain due to gas.
Arm Pain: Heartburn Or Something Else
Heart attack survivors often recount their first symptom as a heartburn-like sensation. Many patients explicitly use the word heartburn when recounting their cardiac experience. Patients often realize that their heartburn is in fact not reflux-related but heart-related when:
- There is a pain radiating up the arm, specifically the left arm
- They have no history of acid reflux
- There is a burning sensation in the chest
- They have not eaten anything prior to the pain
- The pain doesnt go away with antacid
If your heartburn symptoms dont go away after taking an antacid, and are accompanied by arm pain and back pain, we suggest going to an emergency facility immediately to get medical help.
Recommended Reading: Why Do I Randomly Get Heartburn
Heartburn Heart Attack And Gender
Not everyone experiences heart attacks the same way. The common signs of heart attack include chest pain, pressure, tightness, squeezing or burning, and it could be in the middle or to either side of the chest, says Patterson. It may or may not spread to the neck, jaw, back or arm.
Other possible symptoms of heart attack include:
- Shortness of breath
- Exercise intolerance
- Other symptoms similar to heartburn and abdominal pain
In particular, gender may have an impact on potential heart attack symptoms. Women tend to not have the typical heart attack symptoms. It can present as something that feels like heartburn, states Sauer.
It is more common for women to present with the atypical symptoms, agrees Patterson. An example would be fatigue without chest pain or shortness of breath without chest pain.
Other Heart Attack Early Warning Signs And Symptoms: Arm And Back Pain
The chest pain of a heart attack can spread, or radiate, down one or both arms and to the shoulders. This often happens, and the pain may even extend to the wrist and fingers. This is most common on the left side of the body but it can also occur on the right side.
Upper back pain
The upper back is another common location for the spread of the pain from a heart attack. Most commonly, back pain that stems from a heart attack is described as occurring between the shoulder blades.
A feeling of being generally unwell or like you are coming down with an illness can accompany a heart attack. This can be described as fatigue or even lightheadedness, with or without fainting. Some people will experience severe anxiety or panic during a heart attack. This has been described as feeling a sense of doom, as one experiences a panic attack.
Also Check: How Do I Get Rid Of Severe Heartburn
Do Heart Attacks And Heartburn Feel Similar
Although heartburn and heart attacks have different causes, they can feel similar. Both can cause chest pain and discomfort in the center of the chest, so it can be hard to distinguish between the two.
If you have a burning pain behind your breastbone that started after a spicy meal and otherwise you feel well, it is likely you have heartburn. Often, heartburn can be easily treated with over-the-counter antacids. If you try this and your symptoms go away, that is a good indicator they were caused by heartburn.
Many people also get heartburn more than once. So if you had heartburn in the past and experience the same symptoms again, it is likely another case of heartburn.
Angina and heart attacks can also cause a burning pain or discomfort in the chest, so it is important to notice other symptoms. For example, if you also feel short of breath or light-headed, it might be something more serious . If you are unsure about your symptoms, or if you have chest pain that feels different from what you had in the past, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider. They can help you determine if your symptoms are from heartburn or a more serious cause.
It is important to know that heart attacks in women can have different symptoms. Women can have chest pressure and heaviness. But they may also have no chest pain at all. Instead, women may have nausea, fatigue, or lightheadedness that could be mistaken for another illness.
Differences Between Symptoms Of Heartburn And Heart Attack
It can sometimes be difficult to know if symptoms are due to a heart attack or heartburn. Doctors often find making a diagnosis based on symptoms alone difficult and rely on tests.
Sometimes even doctors can find their symptoms difficult to understand. A doctor at Harvard, for example, has told his story of heart disease.
He had a burning symptom in his upper belly whenever he exercised, but treatments for heartburn did not help.
It was not until he became breathless and unable to carry on that he sought medical help. Tests revealed heart disease that was close to causing a heart attack.
The main difference between symptoms is that:
- Heartburn tends to be worse after eating and when lying down, but a heart attack can happen after a meal, too.
- Heartburn can be relieved by drugs that reduce acid levels in the stomach.
- Heartburn does not cause more general symptoms, such as breathlessness.
- Heart attack does not cause bloating or belching, but these can happen with heartburn.
following symptoms should call 911 at once:
- Chest pain or discomfort, such as pressure, squeezing, pain, or fullness that lasts more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back again
- Pain or discomfort in other parts of the body, for example, one or both arms, back, jaw, neck, or stomach
- Shortness of breath, before or with chest discomfort
- Cold sweat
- Other signs: Feeling unusually tired
All these symptoms can affect both men and women, but:
Don’t Miss: How Can You Cure Heartburn
Acid Reflux And Headaches
While there are no studies showing that gastrointestinal disorders can lead to headaches, there are publications that illustrate how gastric problems, in particular acid reflux, can coincide with headaches.
A study involving 43,782 patients studies the possible prevalence of headaches in patients with gastrointestinal problems. Compared to diarrhea and constipation, patients with acid reflux symptoms report higher prevalence of headaches.
Another study involving 1,832 migraine patients were tested for heartburn and GERD symptoms. Of the group, 22% reported GERD diagnosis, 11.6% reported heartburn, and another 15.8% reported previously undiagnosed reflux symptoms.
These studies show that patients with acid reflux problems also tend to experience headaches, although there are no clear reasons why. Although unclear, doctors confirm that treating gastrointestinal problems also alleviates headache symptoms, which is how acid reflux-related headaches are treated.
Am I Having Heartburn Or A Heart Attack
Youre experiencing chest pain after a big meal. It could be your heartburn acting up. However, its also possible that the chest pain is a sign of an impending heart attack. These two issues often feel very similar, making it hard to determine the difference. As a result, emergency room doctors will typically perform diagnostic tests to rule out a heart attack if youre experiencing chest pain.
Read Also: I Ve Been Having Really Bad Heartburn
Signs That Heartburn Is A Warning Of Something More Serious
Heartburn is often not serious and will go away on its own or with over-the-counter medications. If you have heartburn that occurs with other symptoms, it could be a sign of a more serious problem. These symptoms may include:
Shortness of breath
Increased heart rate
If you have heartburn or chest pain with any of these symptoms, it is important to get immediate medical attention. This is because these symptoms could mean there is a more serious cause that requires urgent treatment.