Heartburn or Heart attack? Know the signs.

A question that probably pops up in your head when you have a chest pain, “Am I having a heart attack???” Wait …. it could be just ‘heartburn’.

So it is handy to know the difference between heartburn and a heart attack, which can help you in recognizing the symptoms and in their prevention and treatment as well.

Continue reading to know how you can distinguish heartburn from a heart attack and choose an effective mode of treatment respectively.

1. Condition

What is heartburn?

Also known as pyrosis, or more commonly referred to as acid
indigestion, heartburn is a burning sensation experienced in the chest, usually associated with GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease).

What is a heart attack?

An acute Myocardial Infarction, commonly known as heart attack results due to the blockage in the walls of the artery restricting the blood supply to the heart, and causes heart cells to die. The restriction of blood supply, if left untreated for a long period of time can severely damage or even kill the tissues in the heart muscle.

2. Causes


The main reason for heartburn is that the lower esophageal sphincter does not tighten as it should. This is observed because of over-eating and in the obese population.
Foods that can cause heartburn include

Coffee and other caffeine containing products
Fried and fatty foods
Alcohol and tobacco
Tomatoes and citrus based food

Eating large meals and eating just prior going to bed are other factors that cause heartburn

Heart attack

Mainly associated with higher physical and mental stress and exertion.

A severe infection like pneumonia can sometimes lead to a heart attack. If you have a high blood pressure, you may be at a higher risk of having a heart attack.
You need to watch out for your diet, as a major cause of heart attack is a deposition of cholesterol (LDLs) on the inner walls of the arteries.
Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
Lack of physical activity and obesity are also major contributors that lead to a heart attack.

3. Symptoms

It is important that you do not panic when you experience a pain in your chest and look out for these symptoms, which can help you identify the cause of the pain.

It is advisable that you visit an emergency care center if you experience any kind of pain in the chest, irrespective of the cause. Or you can dial 126 126, our 24×7 emergency Heart Helpline number.


Pain and discomfort, with a burning sensation in the chest
A sensation of food returning back to the throat
Bitter or acidic taste in the mouth

Heart attack

Pain and discomfort, often described as an increased pressure and tightness in the chest
The pain usually radiates to the left arm
With heart attack, some symptoms that are not observed with heartburn

Shortness of breath
Excessive sweating

4. Prevention

Heartburn can be avoided by putting to practice a few simple tips.

Eat smaller, frequent meals and avoid fatty foods
Avoid eating at least two to three hours before going to bed Loose those extra pounds and get back in shape
Stop smoking and excessive drinking
Do not wear clothes or belts that are too tight around the waist

Prevention of heart attack involves both, therapy and lifestyle modifications

Lifestyle modifications are similar to those mentioned for Heartburn (avoid fatty food, avoid smoking and drinking and stay in the right shape, physically and mentally)
Medical therapy
Certain sources claim that blood donation can help reduce the risk of a heart attack in men. However, there is no established link for this theory.

5. Treatment

It is important that you visit an emergency care in case you experience a chest pain so that appropriate measures can be taken.

Heartburn – The mode of treatment depends on the underlying cause.

Antacids help to neutralize the stomach acid level and provide immediate relief. H-2 receptor blockers – provide longer relief, but are slower than antacids Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) – limits the further production of acids, allowing the esophageal tissues to heal themselves. Patients over 50 years of age should avoid using PPIs in excess as increase the risk of hip and spine fractures.
Antibiotics are used if the heartburn is because an bacterial infection (Helicobacter Pylori)

Heart attack – Treatment involves prevention of any further
complications. Medical therapy for treatment involves

Antiplatelet therapy – Asprin reduces the risk of plaque rupture and recurrent myocardial infarction
Beta-Blocker therapy – Particularly beneficial in high-risk patients ACE inhibitor therapy – Effective in patients with a history of heart attack, diabetes and hypertension
Statin therapy – Very effective in lowering the LDL levels, thus reducing cholesterol deposit in the arteries
Reperfusion therapy – either with thrombolytic therapy, Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, and if unsuccessful, bypass surgery.

It is important to recognize the symptoms in case of a chest pain and take appropriate steps. A fully equipped clinic will admit you and take the right steps for your treatment in such cases.

You can call Asian Chest Pain Clinic (manned by well qualified and experienced staff) in case of a chest pain at our 24×7 Heart Helpline number 126 126.

For more information on diet, health and nutrition, please email Harpinder Gill at harpinder.gill@ahirc.com. You are welcome to email us with any question on any health topic. Please allow 24 hours for an answer, and if your query seems requiring an urgent response, expect to hear from us before that time.

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One thought on “Heartburn or Heart attack? Know the signs.

  1. […] Read More: Heartburn or Heart attack? Know the signs. | Asian Heart Institute […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: