Heart attacks and heartburn have something in common — the pain they cause in your chest is similar. However, there are specific differences between the two, and it’s important to understand your symptoms before it’s too late because one of them is incredibly deadly. In either case, you should get to the nearest hospital whenever you are unsure of your pain.
So how can you tell when it’s a heart attack or a heartburn?
A heart attack —also known as a myocardial infarction— occurs when arteries in the patient’s heart don’t get enough blood flow. This results in ischemia, where certain areas of your heart don’t receive enough blood and oxygen. This leads to chest pain, coupled with other symptoms. However, one must note that the symptoms that occur when experiencing a heart attack may vary depending on what’s triggering the heart attack.
Heartburn, on the other hand, is a situation that occurs when the acid that lies in your stomach surges to your esophagus. This acid dissolves the food within the body. On the other hand, the body is protected from this acid by a lining that protects the stomach.
However, this lining is absent in the esophagus; therefore, when the acid surges to the esophagus, it causes a burning sensation that causes pain and discomfort for the patient.
It should be stated at this juncture that occasional heartburn is commonplace. However, where such occurrences become regular and quite severe, it can be an indicator of several things, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), acid reflux, and in some cases, pregnancy.
How Symptoms of Heartburn Differ from Symptoms of Heart Attack
While both conditions may possess the same symptoms, the areas these conditions affect are different.
For starters, heartburn pains begin around the upper part of the stomach before gradually moving toward the chest. On the other hand, a heart attack involves an uncomfortable sensation in the center or left side of the chest. This sensation may sometimes be described as a certain squeezing or “pressure” on the chest.
Heartburn is also quite noticeable, especially after eating a meal, while the pains accompanying a heart attack are sudden. Finally, heartburn will leave you with a sour taste due to the rising acid. On the other hand, heart attacks will leave you with shortness of breath.
How To Avoid Acid Reflux
There are various ways you can lower your chances of experiencing heartburn.
- First, you must avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and citrus. These things cause the valve between the esophagus and the stomach to relax, making it easier for free acid to rise.
- It is also important to raise your bed before you sleep if you experience heartburn at night. Raising the bed about 6 inches from the ground allows gravity to help keep the contents of your stomach in your stomach.
See Your Doctor
In either case, when the symptoms of either heartburn or heart attacks are severe and frequent, go to your hospital and see your doctor.