HealthONE - July 05, 2018

At first glance, the symptoms of a heart attack and heartburn might seem pretty similar. You might have heard about someone who goes to the hospital, convinced that they are having a heart attack, only to find out that it’s just heartburn. On the other hand, a person might assume that their chest pains are merely a symptom of heartburn, when in reality they are suffering a heart attack.

While the symptoms of a heart attack (or angina) and heartburn do mirror one another, there are ways to differentiate between the two:

Signs of heartburn
Heartburn usually happens after you eat, or when you are lying down. With heartburn, you might feel a burning sensation below the breast bone. Heartburn might be accompanied by nausea, which usually subsides once your stomach settles down.

Signs of heart attack
Conversely, a heart attack might happen after physical exertion or stress and can occur unexpectedly. A heart attack feels like a crushing weight or pressure in the center of the chest. This pain can spread throughout the upper body and you might experience pain or tightness in the shoulders, neck, arms or jaw.

A heart attack can also be accompanied by nausea. Other symptoms include cold sweats, shortness of breath, vomiting and feeling lightheaded. These symptoms almost never happen with heartburn and are more common in women who are having a heart attack.

What to do if you think you’re having a heart attack
Never ignore the sign of a heart attack. Call 9-1-1 and seek emergency medical treatment immediately. If the pain lasts more than a few minutes, someone could be having a heart attack.

Treating heartburn
Taking antacids can alleviate some of the discomfort caused by heartburn. You can also try shifting the position of your body to reduce chest pain. Recurring heartburn can damage the esophagus and cause other serious health problems. If you are experienced heartburn frequently or more often, talk to your doctor about your symptoms.

Are you at risk for heart disease?
Heart disease strikes someone in the U.S. every 34 seconds and claims more lives than all forms of cancer combined. Find a cardiologist in Denver today!