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When Your Chest Speaks: Heartburn or Heart Attack?

Posted by Simple Promise on

When Your Chest Speaks:  Heartburn or Heart Attack?

Just finished a spicy meal and suddenly, there’s that chest discomfort.

Panic sets in: is it that extra chili, or something more serious?

Chest discomfort can be unnerving, especially when we associate it with serious heart conditions. However, distinguishing between heartburn and a heart attack is crucial.

The Burning Question: Heartburn or Heart Attack?

Both heartburn and heart attacks may share some alarming symptoms, like chest pain, but they have distinctly different origins and characteristics.

Understanding Heart Attacks:

Heart attacks happen when blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked, usually by a blood clot. Without oxygenated blood, heart muscles can get damaged or die.

Characteristics of a Heart Attack:

  • Pain or discomfort that can spread to the arm, jaw, neck, or back.
  • Feeling of tightness, pressure, or squeezing in the chest.
  • Shortness of breath or fatigue with mild exertion.
  • Nausea, dizziness, or cold sweats.

Getting to Know Heartburn:

Heartburn is a sensation of burning in the chest caused by stomach acid backing up into the esophagus. It can get worse when sitting or lying down.

Characteristics of Heartburn:

  • A sharp, burning sensation just below the breastbone or ribs.
  • Pain that can be relieved by antacids.
  • A sour taste in the mouth.
  • Symptoms might get worse after eating or when lying down.

How To Differentiate Between a Heartburn & Heart Attack

Duration: Heart attack symptoms typically last 30 minutes or longer. Heartburn symptoms may go away after taking antacids and tend to be more sporadic.

Type of Pain: Heartburn pain is less likely to be associated with physical activity. But a heart attack might happen during physical exertion.

Response to Medications: If you have heartburn, antacid drugs will typically relieve your pain within moments. If it's a heart attack, nitroglycerin and other heart medications may alleviate the pain, but the relief won't be instantaneous.

Symptoms: Nausea, cold sweats, and light-headedness are more common with a heart attack. Heartburn can be accompanied by a sour taste in your mouth or a sensation that food is re-entering your mouth.

When in doubt, don’t play a guessing game.

If you're uncertain whether your chest pain is caused by heartburn or a heart attack, seek immediate medical attention.

A rule of thumb: it's better to be safe than sorry. Your heart will thank you!