What is the difference between a heartburn and heart attack?

Once an individual finishes a meal and starts to experience chest pain, one might wonder whether it is a simple heartburn or a heart attack. Luckily, it is not the latter. Nevertheless, the signs and symptoms of heartburn and heart attack can be strikingly similar. Whether the individual suffers from regular heartburn or an individual believes he/she is at risk for a heart attack, being familiar with the difference between the two can help save a life as well as prepared on delivering the appropriate first aid care as long as required.

Difference between heart attack and heartburn

Always remember that heartburn is considered as a symptom, not a disease. Heartburn is characterized by a burning sensation or pain in the middle of the chest accompanied by acid reflux. If heartburn occurs frequently, it can indicate gastroesophageal reflux diseases (GERD) and requires medical attention as soon as possible.

Heartburn is due to the malfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter which allows the partially digested food and stomach acid to return back up the esophagus. There is a bad taste left in the mouth as well as burning sensation in the throat. Take note that this does not occur during a heart attack.

How heart attack is different


Heartburn is characterized by a burning sensation or pain in the middle of the chest accompanied by acid reflux.


The distinguishing feature of a heart attack is the persistent feel of crushing or tightening in the middle of the chest. Take note that this pain could not be alleviated by changing the body position and can last longer than a usual episode of heartburn.

The pain linked with a heart attack frequently radiates from the middle of the chest to either the left arm or both as well as the back, shoulders, jaw and neck This indicates that an individual must be given immediate medical care. Delaying medical care might minimize the chance of survival of the individual.

Pay close attention to nausea

It is important to observe closely nausea since it manifests during a heart attack and heartburn. You can easily determine the striking dissimilarities between the two conditions. During heartburn, nausea is typically momentary and can be due to stomach upset. When it comes to a heart attack, nausea is often accompanied by dizziness, profuse sweating and difficulty breathing. This occurs because once an individual experiences a heart attack, it triggers the body to respond since it is in a state of crisis.

Important tips to bear in mind

Do not ignore the warning signs of a heart attack believing that it is only heartburn. In case you are in doubt, it is important to call for emergency assistance right away. You never know since the individual might be having a heart attack.

It is also best to be particular in recognizing the symptoms of a heart attack if a family member or friend is at risk or already experienced a heart attack before.