Chest Pains: Is It Indigestion or A Heart Attack?

Heartburn or heart attack?

That is the question. You’re at home and you start having chest pains. Should you be concerned?

Heartburn or indigestion creates discomfort and pain when digestive acid backs up from the stomach into the esophagus. Indigestion usually starts as a burning sensation. You might feel it in your upper abdomen, and the pain and discomfort might spread to your chest area, thus the term “heartburn.”

A heart attack is similar. The classic signs involve a sudden and severe pain in the chest. Victims describe it as a crushing pain, like an elephant sitting on your chest. However, heart attack signs vary greatly depending on the individual, and many attacks do not occur in the classic “textbook” way.

Heartburn can be one symptom of a heart attack. The most common symptom for both men and women is chest discomfort, and sometimes it is hard to tell whether it is mere heartburn or a more serious heart attack.

Typical heart attack symptoms:

  • Pressure on the chest
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Chest pain
  • A squeezing sensation in the chest
  • Pain that radiates down your arms, particularly your left arm or that spreads into the back, neck or jaw
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Indigestion (heartburn)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breaking out into a cold sweat
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sudden dizziness

In case of any chest pain that you are not sure about, err on the side of caution and seek medical attention right away. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Remember that heart attack pain happens when a blocked artery can’t supply blood to the heart, so immediate medical attention is crucial.

Surepoint Emergency Center is open 24 hours a day and is located at I-35E and Loop 288 on the east side of the highway. At Surepoint, you are seen by a doctor within 5 minutes of your arrival. There is no waiting like in the hospital emergency room when you are sick.