Heartburn or Heart Attack: How To Save A Life By Knowing The Difference

You may have wondered if you have ever had a heart attack at one point in your adult life. That feeling when your chest constricts and a searing pain hit through you is no laughing matter. But, unlike the idea of gasping for breath or slumping over while gripping the chest as reflected in movies and television shows, the difference between heartburn and a heart attack can be slight. To ensure safety, it is therefore essential to learn the difference between these two conditions. To give you an idea here’s a breakdown on the differences between heartburn or a heart attack.

Source: drossmangastroenterology.com

Source: drossmangastroenterology.com

Understanding Heartburn

Heartburn is deemed a form of acid indigestion. It is both a discomfort and a painful situation known to be caused by acids aiding digestion to move back up into the esophagus. If you have the same feeling lately, it is important to ask the following questions:

  • Does the burning sensation start in the upper abdomen and move up to the chest?
  • Does the sensation occur after eating?
  • Does the sensation happen while lying down or bending over?
  • Have you eaten a full meal within two hours prior to going to bed?
  • Does your antacid medication help?
  • Does your mouth taste sour after each “attack”?
  • Does it involve regurgitation of small food contents?

Heartburn can affect individuals differently. If you answered two or all questions above with a “yes”, there is a high chance that you are experiencing heartburn due to acid reflux or GERD. It is important to note that heartburn pain generally does not radiate to shoulders, arms and necks. It is also not accompanied by nausea or dizziness. Most importantly, this condition often responds immediately with antacids.

Telltale Signs of A Heart Attack

On the other hand, one of the world’s biggest serial killers is myocardial infarction or simply called “heart attack”. This usually happens when oxygen-rich blood gets blocked leading to shortage, if not absence, of oxygen to the heart. Some of the risk factors often include high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. It is also considered as a hereditary condition by many.

To rule out other underlying conditions like heartburn, the following question must be asked?

  • Does the pain in your chest emanate from the area near the left breast bone?
  • Does pain start elsewhere slowly radiating to the areas in the abdomen, chest and in between shoulders?
  • Do you feel a mounting pressure or constriction like a rubber hand being tightened around you?
  • Did you feel nauseous or have the urge to vomit?
  • Do you experience shortness of breath accompanied by dizziness and pain?
  • Do you feel rapid heartbeat and pulse quickening accompanied by dizziness, shortness of breath or a feeling of weakness?
  • Do you feel mounting anxiety and discomfort?
  • Do you sweat profusely while reeling from pain, palpitations, dizziness, anxiety and other symptoms?
  • Does your complexion change from grey to ashen or in between while experiencing the above mentioned symptoms?
  • Did you often feel tired and have unexplained severe weakness in the days prior to the constriction of the chest area?

The telltale signs of heart attack can be somewhat tricky. To others, it can be a progression while to some it could be quick and fatal. It is important to note however, that some symptoms of heartburn or heart attack overlap with each other. It is important to note though that heart attack often manifests like a heartburn that does not respond to antacid medications.

Important Consideration

Differentiating heartburn or heart attack can indeed, be tricky without undergoing certain tests. It is important to remind people however that not all heart attacks manifest soap-opera like symptoms where a character clutched and chest seemingly falling from his or her seat. Experienced doctors may even have difficulty assessing the difference between the two without assessing medical history, doing physical exam and undergoing tests. It is common knowledge though that when an individual experience persistent chest pains and other accompanying symptoms, it is imperative to call for help immediately. Speed is of essence when it comes to addressing heart attack. Consulting with your doctor immediately on such symptoms will not only rule out heartburn or the possibility of myocardial infarction, it also means saving your life.