Home Is Your Chest Pain a Heart Attack or Just Heartburn?

Is Your Chest Pain a Heart Attack or Just Heartburn?

Verified By Apollo Cardiologist June 12, 2019 9819 0

Chest pain that doesn’t subside can be frightening — but it does not necessarily have to be a heart attack. It is sometimes hard to discern unexplained chest pain. It could be high blood pressure, a heart attack or just heartburn. It is hard to tell them apart as symptoms of heart attack and heartburn overlap with each other.

If you are worried about your chest pain, especially if it is sudden, severe and unexplained, you should call for an ambulance immediately.

Read on to understand how they differ and learn when to call for immediate help.

Heart Attack and Heartburn – the Difference

Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs when an artery supplying blood to the heart is blocked. This can damage the heart muscle. Angina is a chest pain caused when the arteries supplying blood are narrowed by some heart disease.

A heart attack is an emergency which can be life-threatening. Therefore, if you think you or your loved ones is having a heart attack, seek medical emergency services immediately.

Heart Attack Symptoms:

  • Heart attack symptoms may include:
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Abnormal Heartbeat
  • Chest pain/discomfort
  • Pain/discomfort in the one or both arms, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Cold sweat
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea

Also, apart from the ones listed above, women may experience different symptoms including sweating, dizziness and pressure/pain in the chest or back


Heartburn is a burning pain felt often in the lower chest or upper abdomen and has nothing to do with your heart. It happens when stomach acid or food rises up into your food pipe, a pipe that connects your throat to your stomach.

Most people experience heartburn frequently, especially after having a large meal or some fried or fatty foods, foods like chocolate or alcohol. Heartburn is also common in women during pregnancy as the uterus grows to put pressure on the stomach.

Heartburn Symptoms:

  • Symptoms of heartburn include:
  • A burning feeling or a feeling of warmth, or chest pain that generally gets worse if you bend over or lie down
  • Sour taste in the mouth.
  • Atrial flutter

In most of the cases, heartburn is not serious. Your doctor may ask you to avoid some foods or taking over-the-counter medications, such as antacids to relieve your pain. However, in some cases, recurrent heartburn may be a symptom of a serious digestive disorder.

Again, heart attack and heartburn pain can be similar. If you are in doubt, call an ambulance and seek medical help immediately. Prompt medical care can save a life if it is a heart attack.

Is your pain accompanied by a runny nose, coughing, sore throat, and fever?

Acute bronchitis can make your chest ache, a pain that worsens if you have a hacking cough. The condition occurs when your bronchial tubes become inflamed. Mucus builds up, leading to shortness of breath and feeling like you have a cold.

Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and ask you to rest and drink plenty of liquids to thin the mucus and keep your bronchial tubes lubricated. If symptoms continue longer than 10 days, consider getting a chest X-ray to determine whether your condition has turned into pneumonia or if there is another culprit causing your pain.

Do you have a rapid heart rate, fever, fatigue or trouble breathing?

Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle that produces symptoms resembling a heart attack. If you have these symptoms, seek medical help immediately.

Do you feel pressure in your chest and discomfort in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw or back? Do you feel like you have indigestion?

Angina signals an underlying heart condition that can lead to a heart attack. Stable angina is triggered by emotional stress, smoking, heavy meals and extreme variances in temperature, all of which cause your heart to work harder.

This type of angina is episodic but controllable. Your doctor will prescribe rest and nitroglycerin to manage the condition.

Unstable angina is characterized by sudden chest pain or worsening or persistent chest discomfort that occurs during sleep or reduced physical activity. It is caused by a reduction in blood flow to the heart. This is a serious health issue that requires immediate medical attention.

Are you experiencing shortness of breath, nausea, arm pain, fatigue, profuse sweating or pale and clammy skin?

If you experience these symptoms for longer than five minutes and have no explanation for them, Consult online with doctors. You could be having a heart attack.

The best way to thwart this “silent killer?” Tune in to your body and learn how to determine whether your chest pain is the result of overuse, poor diet, and other habits — or whether it’s something more serious.

“Sometimes people are concerned about unexplained symptoms but may delay seeking attention and that can be a big mistake,” said Luanda Grazette, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and a cardiologist at Keck Medicine of USC. “It is never too early to be evaluated for heart disease, but, unfortunately, you can wait too late.”

For more information about Heart-related issues check Healthy heart packages or book an appointment with the Best Cardiologist in India.


Verified By Apollo Cardiologist
The content is reviewed and verified by our experienced and highly specialized team of heart specialists who diagnose and treat more than 200 simple-to-complex heart conditions. These specialists dedicate a portion of their clinical time to deliver trustworthy and medically accurate content
8000+ Top doctors Associated and Apollo Hospitals is continuosly ranked as No1 Multispecialty Hospitals in India with best in class treatments for Cancer, Knee replacements, Liver Transplant, Heart, Diabetes, Kidney.

Quick Appointment



Book ProHealth Book Appointment
Request A Call Back X