Severe heartburn and heart attacks can both cause chest discomfort, but knowing which one you’re dealing with can potentially save your life. As a highly experienced cardiologist, Dr. Henock Saint-Jacques diagnoses the cause of your chest pain and recommends the appropriate treatment.
Because some causes of chest pain can require emergency medical attention, it’s important to know the symptoms of a heart attack versus the symptoms of heartburn. In this blog, we’ll explore the shared symptoms of heart attacks and heartburn and how to tell the difference.
Is it heartburn? Or a heart attack?
Heart attacks and heartburn share a few symptoms, including chest discomfort and nausea. Interestingly, heartburn itself can be a symptom of a heart attack. Looking closer at the other symptoms you experience might give you a clue as to which condition you might have.
You might have heartburn if...
Heartburn occurs when your digestive acid moves into your esophagus. Heartburn is a common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
In addition to chest pain and discomfort, the following symptoms often occur with heartburn:
- A burning sensation that may originate in your upper abdomen and move into your chest
- Pain that is worse after eating or when lying down
- Discomfort that wakes you up at night (especially if you ate right before bed)
- Discomfort that is relieved through belching or by taking antacids
- Regurgitation (and a burning sensation in your throat)
You might also suspect heartburn is the cause of your discomfort if you have a personal history of GERD.
You might be having a heart attack if...
Although chest pain is the most well-known heart attack symptom, it’s not the only one. In fact, some symptoms may be subtle and easily mistaken for other conditions. In addition to chest pain, other heart attack symptoms include:
- Pain that travels to your neck, shoulder, or jaw
- Cold sweat
- Nausea and indigestion
- Shortness of breath
Women are more likely to experience the “silent” heart attack symptoms such as heartburn, indigestion, and nausea.
What to do if you experience chest pain
If you experience chest pain and you’re not sure what’s causing it, call 911. If your pain is caused by a heart attack, swift medical attention can save your life.
If you had chest pain that dissipated after a while but never sought emergency medical care, don’t hesitate to call Dr. Saint-Jacques. Heart attacks as well as heartburn can both cause pain that disappears after a few hours. Dr. Saint-Jacques can use diagnostic tests, such as an EKG, to reveal valuable information about your heart and to confirm the cause of your chest pain. EKG 一 which is short for electrocardiogram 一 can show evidence of a past heart attack as well as a heart attack in progress.
If an EKG reveals that you had a heart attack, he can recommend the appropriate treatments, including medication and/or surgery. If, on the other hand, heartburn was the culprit, medication as well as lifestyle changes can help you reduce unwanted symptoms of heartburn. Taking medication to manage GERD, avoiding eating right before bed, and avoiding dietary triggers can help you manage heartburn related to GERD.
Chest pain should never be ignored as it can be a sign of a serious condition. To learn more about chest pain and/or heart attack treatment options, call our East Harlem, New York, office or visit our website to make an appointment.