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 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.
How Is Heartburn Treated
Most healthy people have heartburn from time to time. Heartburn that is mild and occasional can usually be managed with lifestyle changes, such as:
- eating smaller, more frequent meals instead of large meals
- avoiding any food you know triggers heartburn
- avoiding lying down soon after a meal wait for 3 hours
- not eating too late at night
- lifting the head of your bed so you are raised from the waist up
- stopping smoking, if you smoke
- avoiding tight clothing
You may also want to try over-the-counter medicines called antacids, which neutralise stomach acid. If you are pregnant, check with your doctor or pharmacist if these medications are safe for you to take.
A lot of people take heartburn medicines when they dont need to. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners recommends that you discuss any medication you are taking for reflux or heartburn with your doctor or specialist to see if it is safe to reduce or stop it. For further information, visit the Choosing Wisely Australia website.
Your doctor will probably recommend the lifestyle changes and antacids. If your symptoms do not respond or you have GORD, you may need prescription medicines.
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Home Treatments For Gerd
Consuming particular foods are understood to increase the amount of acid in the stomach, which can result in symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn. Preventing these foods may help to reduce symptoms without taking medications. Examples consist of:
Making lifestyle changes such as:
- preventing smoking
- eating little meals rather of large ones
- sitting upright for a minimum of 3 hours after consuming
Also, if you are obese, taking actions to decrease your weight can help. This includes healthy consuming and exercising whenever possible. If you are not exercising routinely, a good objective is to strive for 30 minutes of exercise five times a week.
For infants with GERD, a physician may advise diet changes, such as including a percentage of rice cereal to breast milk or formula to thicken it to make reflux less most likely. Holding a baby upright during feeding, and a minimum of 30 minutes after, might likewise decrease symptoms. Preventing overfeeding can help also.
In older children, a physician might suggest a removal diet of foods understood to aggravate acid reflux . Raising the head of a kids bed might likewise help prevent acid reflux symptoms.
If these procedures do not relieve a kids symptoms, a medical professional might prescribe medications that are similar to an adults but in smaller dosages. It is necessary to see your doctor when changes are not assisting or when symptoms occur twice a week or more.
Other Causes Of Chest Pain
Heart attack and heartburn arent the only causes of chest pain, but theyre two of the most likely ones. Other potential symptoms include:
- Anxiety attack. Severe bouts of anxiety can cause panicked feelings that may make you feel as if your heart is racing. Other symptoms include shortness of breath and intense fear.
- Esophageal muscle spasm. Some people have an esophagus that tightens or spasms. If this occurs, a person can have pain and discomfort,
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What Is The Difference Between Gas Pain And Heart Attack
Classically, chest pain that is associated with the heart muscle not getting enough oxygen is described as pressure, tightness or heaviness. A person who is having a heart attack may say it feels like an elephant is sitting on my chest. Chest pain that is due to angina or a heart attack is often associated with other heart-related symptoms. Heart attack symptoms include:
- Left side chest pain that radiates to the neck, jaw, shoulders, arms or back
- Shortness of breath
- Inflammatory conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and Crohns disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
If you have chest pains and gassy tendencies you may be being affected by one of these gastrointestinal problems. You should see your doctor if symptoms are persistent or recurrent. It is important to take note of when the symptoms come and go and if there are any identifiable irritating factors. For example, people who develop heartburn and chest pain every time they eat spicy food may be able to avoid the reflux and gas in chest simply by avoiding spicy food. Other people may notice pain in the upper right side of the abdomen that radiates to the shoulder blades every time they eat a particularly fatty meal. This type of history indicates a possible gallbladder problem. Having details about the type, timing, and duration of symptoms provides your doctor with important clues as to what may be causing the problem and can help guide diagnostic work up and therapy recommendations.
What Is Acid Reflux
A circular muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter joins your esophagus and stomach. This muscle is in charge of tightening your esophagus after food passes to the stomach. If this muscle is weak or doesnt tighten properly, the acid from your stomach can move backward into your esophagus. This is known as acid reflux.
Acid reflux can cause heartburn and other symptoms that include:
Most people can experience heartburn and acid reflux intermittently related to something they ate or habits like lying down immediately after eating. However, GERD is a chronic condition where doctors start to examine long-lasting habits and parts of a persons anatomy that could cause GERD. Examples of the causes of GERD include:
- being overweight or obese, which puts extra pressure on the stomach
- hiatal hernia, which reduces pressure in the LES
- consuming alcohol
- taking medicines known to weaken the LES, such as antihistamines, calcium channel blockers, pain-relieving medicines, sedatives, and antidepressants
Symptoms of GERD may disrupt your daily life. Fortunately, they can usually be controlled with treatment. Options include:
- diet modification
- smoking cessation
- alcohol cessation
Medications for GERD work to reduce the amount of acid in the stomach. They may not be effective for everyone. Some people need surgery to help reinforce the LES.
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Can Gas Cause Chest Pain
The esophagus is the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. It passes directly behind the heart. Acid or gas in the esophagus can cause irritation and lead to chest pain that mimics heart attack symptoms.
It can be difficult to tell the difference between gas pain and a heart attack. Both can cause chest pain or chest pressure. Often it is the symptoms you have in addition to the chest pain that indicates whether the pain is coming from your heart or somewhere else.
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
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What Is The Prognosis For A Heart Attack And Heartburn
The prognosis for the majority of people with heartburn is good to excellent if they try to prevent any future problems. Severe heartburn has a reduced prognosis as it can lead to esophageal damage, Barretts esophagus, and/or inability to swallow due to stricture formation.
The prognosis of a heart attack may be good to fair if treated immediately however, the prognosis decreases if a large amount of heart muscle is damaged or destroyed during a heart attack. Complications of heart attacks include irregular heartbeat , heart valve damage, heart failure, additional heart attacks, and/or sudden death.
Complications occur more frequently after a person survives a heart attack. Complications occur less frequently after heartburn.
Differences In Between Symptoms Of Heartburn Vs Acid Reflux
Heartburn, a symptom of acid reflux, and feels like a burning pain or discomfort in the chest, around the area of the heart.
Acid reflux might include heartburn symptoms. Other typical symptoms of acid reflux include:
- A warm or acidic taste at the back of the throat
- Sore throat
- Nausea, a sensation of fullness.
- Feeling tightness in the throat.
- It might feel challenging to swallow, or you may seem like you have food stuck in your throat.
Acid reflux and heartburn might trigger chest pain, when after consuming or when resting. See your medical professional if you have any chest pain that is not identified because chest pain may signify a cardiovascular disease or another major heart condition.
If you have been diagnosed as having acid reflux by your physician or other healthcare professional, and your symptoms change all of a sudden or worsen acutely, seek healthcare right now to make certain this chest pain is not related to a cardiac arrest or other serious medical conditions.
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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.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
Despite having similar symptoms to heartburn, the symptoms of a heart attack are quite unique:
- Pain, pressure, or a squeezing sensation in your chest or arms that begins to spread to the neck, jaw, or back
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden dizziness
- Persistence or increasing intensity of symptoms over the course of several minutes
The symptoms of a heart attack often come on very quickly, as they are typically a result of a blockage within the coronary artery.
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Do You Feel Pressure In Your Chest And Discomfort In Your Shoulders Arms Neck Jaw Or Back Do You Feel Like You Have Indigestion
Angina signals an underlying heart condition that can lead to a heart attack. Stable angina is triggered by emotional stress, smoking, heavy meals and extreme variances in temperature, all of which cause your heart to work harder.
This type of angina is episodic but controllable. Your doctor can help you understand and manage the condition.
Unstable angina is characterized by sudden chest pain or worsening or persistent chest discomfort that occurs during sleep or reduced physical activity. It is caused by a reduction in blood flow to the heart. This is a serious health issue that requires immediate medical attention.
When To See A Doctor About Heartburn Vs Indigestion
If your symptoms of heartburn and/or indigestion dont improve after a few weeks of home remedies and preventive measures, see your doctor.
Chronic heartburn or indigestion issues could be a sign of an underlying medical condition that needs treatment. To get to the root of chronic indigestion or heartburn issues, your doctor may order a few tests, including:
- a physical exam of your abdomen
- acid probe tests to measure when stomach acid reaches back into your esophagus
- imaging tests, such as X-rays and endoscopies , to look at your esophagus and stomach
- blood or stool tests to rule out bacterial infections that may be causing indigestion
- pain in your abdomen that doesnt go away
- frequent vomiting
- blood in vomit or stools
- tar-colored stools
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Diagnosis And Treatment For Heartburn And Gas
It is possible to reduce or eliminate heartburn and gas by diagnosing it thoroughly. Visiting a physician will be helpful under such circumstances. Apart from explaining the symptoms, it is also important to give in-depth details on how you feel after eating a meal or a particular product. Sharing the health history of the family will also be helpful for the doctor to conclude.
After considering all these aspects, the doctor will eliminate the unwanted points and conduct the diagnosis using tests, if necessary, such as Manometry, Endoscopy, and X-ray. Based on the results, the physician will provide with medications and changes in the diet. Following it thoroughly will be helpful in overcoming heartburn and gas.
At the same time, you are also improving the health as you are avoiding the foods that are causing severe damage to the digestive system. Now that you are providing the body what it requires in appropriate levels, you can expect a speedy recovery and show positive energy at all times. Apart from depending on medicines, including exercises and providing the needed rest to the body is also of crucial importance to eliminate heartburn and gas.
|Written, Edited or Reviewed By:Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc.This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimerLast Modified On: December 16, 2019|
Location Of Chest Pain
Both cardiac and noncardiac chest pain can occur in the center of the chest behind the breastbone.
However, cardiac chest pain can spread across the chest and even affect other parts of the body, such as the:
In contrast, noncardiac chest pain tends to feel like an intense stabbing or burning sensation just beneath the surface of the skin.
Coughing, breathing, or moving can affect the intensity of noncardiac chest pain, while the severity of cardiac chest pain usually remains stable, even when resting.
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