Heartburn Symptoms Vs Heart Attack
The symptoms of heartburn and heart attack are often confused17,but they are very different conditions. Its important to learn the difference and know when to seek medical help.
Signs Of A Heartburn
Signs of heartburn include a burning pain in your chest that rises toward your throat, burning pain that worsens when you bend over or lie down, or an unpleasant, acidic taste in your mouth and even bad breath3.
Signs Of A Heart Attack
Signs of a heart attack include chest discomfort, pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, the neck, the jaw or the stomach, shortness of breath, cold sweats, nausea or lightheadedness.
Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
If your heartburn seems worse or different than usual, seek medical attention immediately if you experience chest discomfort, have heart disease or diabetes, smoke, are overweight or have high cholesterol. Do not wait. Call 911 immediately for emergency medical help.18
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.
Medical Treatments For Gerd
Medications are available with and without a prescription for acid reflux and GERD.
Antacids: First-line treatments for acid reflux are usually antacids. These medicines act quickly to reduce the effect of stomach acid, which can relieve symptoms. Examples of these medicines are Tums and Rolaids.
If these medicines dont relieve acid reflux or a person has GERD, other treatments can include:
H2 blockers: H2 blockers are designed to reduce the amount of acid a persons stomach produces. Sometimes taking these medicines with antacids can help. Examples of these medicines include cimetidine and famotidine .
Proton pump inhibitors: These medications work longer than H2 blockers to reduce acid in the stomach. They can also help heal the stomach lining. Examples include:
Prokinetics: These are medications like metoclopramide . There is controversy as to whether these medications benefit people with GERD. Many new prokinetics have been removed from the market due to serious side effects .
If medications dont reduce a persons acid reflux symptoms, a doctor may recommend surgery to avoid further damage to the esophagus and stomach. One surgical approach is known as Nissen fundoplication. This involves wrapping a portion of your stomach around the esophagus to strengthen the LES.
- difficulty breathing
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A Pharmacist Can Help With Heartburn And Acid Reflux
Speak to a pharmacist for advice if you keep getting heartburn.
They can recommend medicines called antacids that can help ease your symptoms.
It’s best to take these with food or soon after eating, as this is when you’re most likely to get heartburn. They may also work for longer if taken with food.
What Are The Symptoms Of Gerd
Heartburn usually is described as a burning pain in the middle of the chest. It may start high in the abdomen or may extend up the neck or back. Sometimes the pain may be sharp or pressure-like, rather than burning. Such pain can mimic heart pain . Typically, heartburn related to GERD is seen more commonly after a meal. Other symptoms of GERD include:
- Hoarseness if acid reflux gets past the upper esophageal sphincter, it can enter the throat and even the voice box , causing hoarseness or sore throat.
- Chronic dry cough, especially at night GERD is a common cause of unexplained coughing. It is not clear how cough is caused or aggravated by GERD.
- Feeling as if there is a lump in your throat
- Sudden increase of saliva
In infants and children, GERD can produce these symptoms:
- Recurrent vomiting
- A failure to thrive
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Tests And Surgery For Heartburn And Acid Reflux
If medicines do not help or your symptoms are severe, a GP may refer you to a specialist for:
- tests to find out what’s causing your symptoms, such as a gastroscopy
- an operation on your stomach to stop acid reflux called a laparoscopic fundoplication
Page last reviewed: 09 September 2020 Next review due: 09 September 2023
Chest Pain: Its Not Always A Matter Of The Heart
There are plenty of other potential suspects when it comes to chest pain.
Mild or severe discomfort in the middle or left side of the chest that feels like fullness, pressure or squeezing could be a potential sign of a cardiovascular event.Most people experience chest pain at some point, but how do you know if it is a heart attack or simply heartburn or anxiety?
Understanding the differences between cardiovascular events and other causes of chest pain can save you a trip to the emergency room. It is also important because the discomfort could be caused by other urgent conditions, as well as less serious issues that may point to a chronic medical problem.
When it comes to cardiovascular causes of chest pain, UAB Medicinecardiologist Gregory Chapman, M.D., says the usual suspects include coronary artery blockages, high blood pressure, and heart valve or rhythm disorders. But there are plenty of other potential suspects. Chapman included a chapter on chest pain diagnosis in his book A Strong and Steady Pulse: Cardiac Stories, which is scheduled for publication in 2021.
Take symptoms seriously
In the United States, nearly 6 percent of emergency room patients report chest pain. More than half of those cases involve non-cardiac chest pain, or NCCP, that is caused by heartburn, anxiety or other issues. A staggering 80 percent of patients who complain of chest pain during primary care visits are simply experiencing NCCP.
Gregory Chapman, M.D.Mimicking a heart attack
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What Does Heartburn Feel Like
Heartburn typically feels like a burning in the center of your chest, behind your breastbone. When you have heartburn, you may also feel symptoms like:
- A burning feeling in your chest that can last anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours.
- Pain in your chest when you bend over or lay down.
- A burning feeling in your throat.
- A hot, sour, acidic or salty taste in the back of your throat.
- Difficulty swallowing.
Heartburn Vs Heart Attack Symptoms
To complicate things even more, angina/heart disease and heartburn share risk factors of being older or overweight.
Signs more typical of heartburn include:
- You have a sharp, burning feeling just below your breastbone or ribs.The chest pain can be accompanied by an acidic taste in your mouth, regurgitation of food, or a burning in your throat.
- Pain generally doesn’t spread to your shoulders, neck, or arms, but it can.
- Pain usually comes after meals, particularly after foods or drinks that trigger reflux in you.
- Pain also comes when you lie down or exercise on a full stomach.
- Symptoms usually get better quickly after taking an antacid.
- You rarely get a cold sweat or shortness of breath along with your other symptoms.
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Serious Side Effects Of Heartburn
Even if its not a heart attack, heartburn can be serious. Dangerous side effects and complications can result if you dont seek treatment. Some common side effects include:
- Awaking from sleep, especially if youve eaten within two hours of going to bed
- Esophageal cancer: if Barretts esophagus is not treated
- Esophagus erosion: scarring, ulcers and narrowing of the tube
- Barretts esophagus: precancerous condition from chronic acid reflux
- Esophageal strictures and dysphagia: swallowing difficulties due to esophagus damage
Common Symptoms Of Heartburn
If you’ve got a burning feeling in your chest just behind your breastbone that starts after you eat, it might be heartburn. The symptoms could last from a few minutes to several hours.
- Chest pain, especially after you bend over, lie down, or eat
- Burning at the back of your throat
- Fluid at the back of your throat that tastes hot, sour, acidic, or salty
- Long-term cough, sore throat, or hoarseness
Telling your doctor about these symptoms is usually all they need to make a diagnosis of heartburn. But they may ask you to take special tests to find out how severe the problem is or to keep an eye on your treatment.
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What Lifestyle Changes Relieve Heartburn
There are several ways to treat and avoid heartburn with lifestyle changes .
Lose weight and maintain your ideal weight. Excess weight increases the pressure on the stomach, increasing the chance of acid reflux into the esophagus.
Avoid foods that aggravate heartburn and replace them with healthy foods. Avoid foods that trigger heartburn . Consider keeping a food journal to alert you to foods that make your heartburn worse. Decrease the amount of food you eat.
Elevate the head of the bed: If you are experiencing heartburn at night, elevating the head of the bed will decrease reflux.
Can Other Things Cause Chest Pain
Not all pain in the chest is a heart attack though. A common type of chest pain is angina. Angina is a repetitive pain that usually lasts just a few minutes. Angina also occurs when the heart doesn’t receive an adequate supply of oxygen, but it differs from a heart attack in that angina attacks don’t permanently impair the heart.
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Heartburn And Heart Attack Pain Can Be Similar Learn The Difference
Youre relaxing at home after a delicious meal. You notice you dont feel quite right. You have an upset stomach. There is a burning sensation in your chest area.
Is it heartburn from indigestion? Could it be a heart attack?
Chest discomfort is the most common symptom of a heart attack, which can be life-threatening. But it can also be a sign of heartburn, which has nothing to do with the heart and is a common symptom of indigestion.
It can sometimes be difficult to tell one from the other. Learning the difference can help you protect your heart health and know when to seek medical attention.
If youre not sure if its heartburn or a heart attack, and your chest pain is persistent seek medical help right away, says Kiyon Chung, MD, a Scripps cardiologist. You will be checked immediately to rule out a heart attack. If your chest pain turns out to be a heart attack, doctors will work to lessen any heart damage.
If its indigestion, youll want to make sure it doesnt become a chronic problem. You may be able to find quick relief taking an over-the-counter antacid or other medication.
What is indigestion?
Heartburn is a symptom of indigestion or acid reflux. It happens when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, the food pipe that connects the throat to the stomach. This backflow causes a burning feeling or pain in the chest. Another symptom is regurgitation, which is when food rises in the back of the throat.
What is a heart attack?
Symptoms of heart attack
Heartburn Acid Reflux And Gerd
The terms heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD are often used interchangeably. They actually have very different meanings.
Acid reflux is a common medical condition that can range in severity from mild to serious. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is the chronic, more severe form of acid reflux. Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux and GERD.
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How Is Heartburn Treated
In most cases, heartburn can be treated at home with over-the-counter medications and changes to lifestyle habits that cause the feeling. Occasional heartburn is common and is typically not serious. However, if you have frequent and severe heartburn, reach out to your healthcare provider. This could be a sign of a chronic condition like GERD. GERD can lead to other serious conditions like esophagitis, Barretts esophagus and even cancer. Sometimes, your doctor may want to do an endoscopy to check for underlying medication conditions. An endoscopy is the examination of your digestive tract with a lighted flexible instrument.
Over-the-counter medications for heartburn typically include antacids and acid blockers.
Heartburn Is Common But It Can Also Be Quite Serious
Heartburn is the burning feeling you get in your chest when food in your stomach backs up into your esophagus. Unfortunately, heartburn is extremely common, with an estimated 60 million Americans experiencing heartburn at least once a month. Nearly 15 million Americans experience heartburn every day.
When you feel heartburn, it means you have gastroesophageal reflux. The reflux is acidic stomach juice thats flowing back up into your esophagus. It irritates the delicate lining of your esophagus and can be painful. The acid reflux backs up into your neck and throat. Frequent acid reflux is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease .
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How To Avoid Reflux
There are some things you can do to keep the heartburn away.
Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.
What Are Heart Attack Signs
Typical heart attack symptoms include:
- Pressure, tightness, pain or a squeezing/aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw or back
- Nausea or abdominal pain
- Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness
For both men and women, the most common symptom of a heart attack is chest discomfort.
Women usually experience some of the additional signs, such as jaw or back pain, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should take steps to get checked out right away.
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Heartburn Or Heart Attack: How To Tell The Difference
While heartburn can cause a number of health problems, the condition itself is not life threatening. Heart attacks, however, can definitely kill you if theyre severe enough and if you dont get help within an appropriate time frame. The problem is the symptoms of a heart attack can be eerily similar to those of severe heartburnso similar that sometimes even a doctor might have a hard time differentiating the two. Complicating matters is the fact that what may be triggering a heart attack can also trigger heartburn. Luckily, there are a few points to keep in mind that separate the two.
Both heart attacks and heartburn can come with sharp chest pain as well as squeezing pains in the chest. In the case of a heart attack, the chest pain is a warning sign. It starts off bad and will worsen as the heart attack occurs.
Heart attacks usually come with a few differences. Shortness of breath, dizziness, and cold sweats are all more associated with heart attacks than heartburn. Heart attacks will also respond to nitroglycerin pills, while nitroglycerin will not help heartburn at all.
What Are Prescription Medications For Heartburn
If over-the-counter antacids and acid blockers do not relieve your heartburn, your healthcare provider may give you a prescription for other medicines, such as:
- Prescription-strength acid blockers: In prescription-strength , Zantac®, Tagamet®, Pepcid® and Axid® can generally relieve heartburn and treat GERD.
- Proton pump inhibitors: These are drugs that block acid production more effectively. Proton pump inhibitors include Aciphex®, Nexium®, Prevacid®, Prilosec® and Protonix®.
There are some proton pump inhibitors that can be purchased over-the-counter. Talk to your healthcare provider about these medications and what is best for you.
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Is It A Heart Attack
Heart attacks occur when the blood supply to the heart muscles becomes completely blocked. If a person does not receive immediate treatment, part of the heart muscle can die.
A common symptom of a heart attack is pain or discomfort that typically occurs in the center or left side of the chest. This pain may come and go, and its severity can range from mild to severe. It can also sometimes feel like heartburn or indigestion.
However, not everyone who has a heart attack experiences chest pain. The symptoms of a heart attack can vary considerably from person to person, and they may come on slowly or very suddenly.
Other symptoms of a heart attack might
- breaking out in a cold sweat
Anyone who suspects that they or someone else is having a heart attack should immediately call 911 or go to the emergency room.
When trying to distinguish between cardiac and noncardiac chest pain, a person needs to consider the following three factors:
- the location of the pain
- how the pain feels
We discuss each of these in more detail below: