Are You Having a Heart Attack — Or Is It Just Heartburn?

Are You Having a Heart Attack — Or Is It Just Heartburn?

When you have a severe pain in your chest, it’s easy to get nervous and start to think the worst. Chest pain can last whole days or wake you up suddenly in the middle of the night, and it’s quite frightening to experience if you aren’t exactly sure what’s causing it.

Most chest pain feels eerily similar, so it can be difficult for the inexperienced to determine whether the chest pain is something easily remedied at home or something more sinister. If you are at all worried that your pain may be cardiac distress, seek emergency help immediately; however, before you have to face that difficult choice, it may help to learn a little more about the differences between different chest pains.

Risk Factors

What complicates the issue even further is that most types of chest pain have many of the same causes. What you choose to eat and drink has a major effect on your body’s overall health, and if you are not eating and drinking healthfully, you are likely to experience all types of chest pain. You may be at risk for both heart attack and heartburn if you regularly overeat and suffer from obesity and related illnesses, like high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Further, eating large meals and proceeding to lie down, or failing to exercise can encourage heartburn, while the lack of activity alone will increase your chances for cardiac trouble.

Additionally, respiratory tract–related disorders like asthma or chronic bronchitis are more likely to be associated with heartburn, but these disorders are most often caused by smoking, which has a high correlation with heart attack. As you can see, the causes of the different types of chest pain are slightly different but related enough that your background may not be enough to distinguish them. However, it would be wise to avoid these behaviors as much as possible to prevent future chest pain of any kind.


Luckily, despite the excruciating pain induced by both heartburn and heart attack, the symptoms of each disorder can differ significantly.

Assess the location and sensation of your chest pain. With acid reflux, the pain will feel slightly more like a burn. Additionally, you can experience heartburn anywhere along the esophagus, so the area of pain may extend as far up as the back of your throat. Heartburn also brings sensations in the mouth like a sour taste or food at the back of the throat.

The pain of a heart attack, meanwhile, is much more centrally located in the chest, but the pain is often accompanied by pressure and fullness in the chest as well as pain in any of these areas:

  • One or both arms
  • The jaw
  • The neck
  • The back

Additionally, those experiencing a heart attack, and especially women with heart troubles, tend to have more varied symptoms than simple heartburn brings. Women in particular are more likely to have pain in other areas of the body besides the chest, and women are more likely to have symptoms like nausea, shortness of breath, sweating, and lightheadedness.

If you have chest pain similar to heartburn but you also experience any of these additional symptoms, seek medical attention right away. No two heart attacks are exactly alike, and when it comes to cardiac distress, every second matters.


If you do find yourself in a medical office, the doctor will assess your condition with a variety of tests.

If your doctor does diagnose you with heartburn, he or she may advocate experimenting with various over-the-counter digestion aids like antacids and acid-blockers. If your condition is severe enough, he or she may even prescribe a strong antacid to help your body better regulate the acids of the stomach.

Drugs for Heart Attack

There are various different options when it comes to prescription heartburn relief, and you can find all of them at a significant discount at a trustworthy Canadian pharmacy. Here are a few of the more popular types of medication:

H2 Blockers

Histamines stimulate acid production, so taking a histamine blocker 30 minutes before a meal can prevent chest pain. Popular options include Pepcid (an over-the-counter drug) and Zantac


Proton Pump Inhibitors

These drugs prevent the creation of acid in the first place and can be more effective than H2 blockers, though they must be taken one hour before meals. Select from drugs like Nexium (Esomeprazole) or Prevacid (Lansoprazole).

If, however, your doctor finds that you are experiencing a form of cardiac distress, she or he will likely ask you to make various lifestyle changes alongside taking prescription medications. Depending on the exact problem you’re facing, there are myriad heart medications to treat your problem. The American Heart Association has explanations of your different options, but you can be sure you’ll be able to find the right medication for you at Canada Drug Pharmacy.