Is it heartburn, or a heart attack

09 Jul

Is it heartburn, or a heart attack

Chest pain is one of the most worrying reasons to go to seek emergency treatment. While many of these people are having a heart attack, some folks may just have severe heartburn.

Often, the pain from a heart attack and a severe heartburn episode is so hard to tell apart that doctors need sophisticated tests to discover what’s going on.

To complicate things even more, heartburn and heart attacks have many of the same symptoms and happen in similar types of people, such as those who are 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 does heartburn feel like?

Heartburn begins when stomach acid splashes up into your esophagus, a tube that connects the back of your throat and stomach as you experience a burning feeling in your chest.

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.

When to call for help

If you have pain in your chest that’s not going away and you’re not sure whether it’s heartburn or a heart attack, call an ambulance.


Also, call an ambulance if you have symptoms that are more typical of a heart attack or angina (severe chest pain from heart problems).


If you have any pain that lasts for more than a few minutes or any warning signs of a heart attack, get medical help immediately. Also get emergency help if you’re confused at all about whether your symptoms are from heartburn or a heart attack.