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Understanding Acid Reflux and Chest Pain: Differentiating Between Heartburn and Heart Attack

Discomfort in the chest and throat as sour or bitter stomach acid backs up into the throat, bloating and excessive belching are all signs of acidity. Regarding chest pain, is it also a symptom of a heart attack? But are heartburn and heart attacks directly related in any way? This is what Dr. Bhupendra Singh, consultant cardiologist at Manipal Hospital in Ghaziabad, will answer, according to what the specialized medical website “onlymyhealth” reports.

What causes acidity?

Acidity is a digestive condition characterized by the backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus.

Here are some causes of acidity:

Eating spicy, fatty, or acidic foods, as well as eating large meals or lying down immediately after eating can lead to acidity.

Smoking, alcohol consumption and obesity can increase the risk of acidity. This occurs when part of the stomach protrudes into the chest cavity, which can lead to acid reflux.

– Hormonal changes and pressure on the stomach during pregnancy can cause acid reflux.

– Some medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, some muscle relaxants, and blood pressure medications, can relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), allowing acid to flow back into the esophagus.

Conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcers, and gastroparesis can contribute to chronic acidity.

– High levels of stress and anxiety can worsen acidity symptoms.

– Chocolate, citrus fruits, tomatoes, mint, onions, and caffeine can relax the lower esophageal sphincter and contribute to acid reflux.

Going to bed with a full stomach can increase the risk of acidity symptoms, because lying down makes it easier for stomach acid to flow into the esophagus.

Wearing tight belts or clothing that puts pressure on the abdomen can promote acid reflux.

Can acidity be a sign of a heart attack?

“Heartburn can sometimes be a sign of a heart attack, although it is not a definitive symptom,” says Dr. Singh, adding, “Some people, especially women, may experience symptoms that mimic heartburn or indigestion.” This can lead to confusion or delay recognition of a heart attack. Therefore, while acidity can cause chest discomfort, it is necessary to differentiate between the two conditions because a heart attack is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. “If you are not sure what is causing your symptoms and suspect you are having a heart attack, it is always best to seek medical help immediately by calling emergency services or going to the nearest emergency room.”

How to differentiate between acidity-related chest pain and heart attack?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death worldwide.

The organization adds, “More than four out of every five deaths due to cardiovascular diseases are due to heart attacks and strokes, and a third of these deaths occur prematurely in people under the age of 70.”

Severe heartburn, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is one of the most common digestive disorders, with a prevalence of about 20% of adults in the West, according to research published in StatsPearls Publishing.

According to Dr. Singh, both heartburn and a heart attack can lead to significant chest pain, “but the big difference is that a heart attack usually feels like pressure, tightness, or squeezing rather than pain.” The sensation may spread to the left shoulder, arm and neck. While heartburn feels like a burning sensation and may spread to the throat. He continued, “Another difference is that heartburn usually causes a burning sensation or discomfort in the upper abdomen or lower chest, while chest pain caused by a heart attack is more central on the left side and may spread to the neck, chin, left shoulder, or lower”.

Other warning signs of a heart attack

It is noted that some heart attacks are sudden and intense. While others can start slowly with mild pain or discomfort, some warning signs of a heart attack include:

– Discomfort in the middle of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or may disappear and then return.

– Feeling of pressure, squeeze, fullness or pain

Other upper body discomfort includes pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach.

Shortness of breath can occur with or without chest pain

Other symptoms include cold sweat, nausea, and dizziness

While lifestyle modifications and dietary changes, along with certain medications if necessary, can help relieve acidity, persistent chest pain along with other issues may need medical intervention.

Consult a health care professional for appropriate evaluation and guidance.

2023-09-26 12:21:08

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