Heartburn vs. Heart Attack: Know the Difference

The symptoms of heartburn and an actual heart attack can be alarmingly similar. In fact, even doctors themselves frequently have trouble distinguishing between the two. So, what is the difference between a heart attack and a case of heartburn? What symptoms might mean something dangerous is going on? Let’s take a look below:

What are the Symptoms of Heartburn?

According to Harvard Medical School, the pain from heartburn feels like a burning chest pain that starts at your breastbone. The painful sensation might move up to your throat, but it doesn’t usually affect your arms, neck, or shoulders. You might feel like food is coming back into your mouth (as in acid reflux) or have strange tastes in your mouth. The symptoms appear most often after eating a large meal and the pain might feel worse if you bend over or lie down to rest.

What are the Symptoms of a Heart Attack?

Heart attack symptoms, meanwhile, can be noticeably different in their  intensity. A heart attack happens when one of your arteries has become blocked. 

You might feel like your heart is beating too fast or in a rhythm that isn’t normal. You could feel lightheaded or short of breath. You might also break out in a cold sweat, or have other uncomfortable symptoms, such as nausea. These symptoms tend to pop up most often during or just after exercise. They might also appear during an extremely stressful situation. 

The pain of a heart attack can feel differently, too. The pain is commonly in the center of the chest and it can feel stabbing, squeezing, dull, or tight. You might also feel pain in your neck, shoulders, and arms, unlike heartburn pain. 

Recognizing the Difference Between Heartburn and a Heart Attack

Since it isn’t always easy to tell the difference between a heart attack and a bad case of heartburn, it’s important to listen to your body. If your pain feels different than usual or if it occurs during physical activity, it’s a good idea to quickly visit a doctor just to be safe. If you ever have even the slightest concern that your chest pain might be more than just heartburn, it’s always best to seek the advice of a medical professional rather than waiting it out. 

What If It’s Just Heartburn?

After your doctor has evaluated you and determined that your pain is just heartburn, then you can look at ways of treating and managing the pain. Making certain lifestyle changes, like not overeating at meals and avoiding greasy foods can sometimes help. Trying certain over the counter medications and supplements can make a difference, too. We love the Terra Health heartburn relief kit

You can also explore more of our favorite natural remedies for acid reflux

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