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Heart Attack or heartburn? What does your chest pain mean

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Heart Attack or heartburn? What does your chest pain mean

Cardiology | by Dr. Rakesh Sarkar | Published on 29/04/2022

The symptoms that we experience every now and then are our body's way of telling us that something is wrong but it is important to understand that a single symptom could be associated with many conditions and it is quite possible for us to mistake one for another. One such symptom is chest pain or angina. The best cardiologist in Kolkata suggests that while there can be multiple reasons responsible for triggering the problem, two of these are very common. These are heart attack and heartburn. Both conditions are very different from each other and required different treatment approaches. However, both can prove to be serious if timely medical intervention is not offered.

In this blog, we will help you understand how chest pain caused by a heart attack differs from that caused by heartburn, with the help of experts from the best cardiac hospital in Kolkata.

Differentiating between a heart attack and heartburn

A heart attack is a serious medical condition marked by an obstruction in the normal blood flow to the heart which is primarily due to a diseased coronary artery. The continuous blood supply is very important to provide the heart with oxygen and essential nutrients, a lack of which can cause the heart muscles to die. As this happens, the heart fails to function as it should, resulting in a heart attack. This is also referred to as cardiac arrest and is marked by the abrupt stopping of the heartbeats, with no pulse.

As far as the symptoms associated with heart attack are concerned, chest pain is listed among the classic indication and is usually described as sudden pressure, tightness, fullness or squeezing. You may feel as if a heavy object is pressing against your chest and this may happen persistently, with each episode lasting for a couple of minutes.

What is important to note is that chest pain is not the only symptom associated with a heart attack there are a couple of other symptoms that you need to look out for. Before we list these, you need to know that not every person having a heart attack is likely to experience the symptoms as they tend to vary from one person to another. These are:

  • Cold sweats
  • Breathlessness
  • Feeling nauseated
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness

Heartburn, on the other hand, is not a disease or ailment, but rather a symptom, caused by a condition known as acid reflux. This is marked by the reverse flow of the contents of the stomach into the food pipe, resulting in acidity and a burning sensation. Although it is termed heartburn, the condition has absolutely nothing to do with your heart and the name just comes from the fact that the pain triggered by it is experienced in the chest. Our stomach contains many acids and enzymes that help in the healthy digestion of food. However, these hold the potential to damage the stomach lining. To prevent this from happening, stomach walls secrete mucus. However, our food pipe does not have any protection against these acids as it does not secrete any mucus. This makes the esophagus more vulnerable to such damage. As per the best heart doctor in Kolkata, it is not possible to point out why exactly patients with acid reflux experience chest pain, however, it is believed to be due to the involvement of the acid-sensitive nerves.

Now, coming to the symptoms, heartburn as the name suggests, is marked by a burning sensation in the esophagus. This is usually experienced in the area around the stomach and can even radiate upwards, towards the upper chest and even the mouth. The pain is often company by other symptoms that include

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Belching

It can be quite difficult to differentiate between the two conditions without proper assessment and that is why you need to go for a detailed diagnosis. However, there are 4 things that might help you to figure out the underlying cause of your chest pain. These are:

The pain caused by heartburn tends to become worse after you take your meals or when to lie down.

The pain caused by a heart attack does not respond to any medication however that triggered by heartburn can be easily relieved by taking prescribed medicines.

The pain caused by a heart attack is associated with n number of other terms there as that caused by heartburn May only be accompanied by vomiting and belching.

When you are experiencing pain triggered by heartburn you are likely to feel bloated, however, there is no such thing in case of a heart attack.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms, seek immediate medical assistance and get yourself evaluated at the earliest.