Is it Heartburn or a Heart attack?

Is it Heartburn or a Heart attack?
December 21 05:47 2018 by admin Print This Article

What is a Heart attack?

Heart attack or cardiac arrest is a stopping of the heart caused by a condition in the coronary arteries. Like any other part of the body, the heart too requires blood supply, to function properly, and this blood is supplied through the coronary arteries. Over time, cholesterol can build-up and thicken in the walls of the artery, gradually reducing blood supply to the heart. When the blockage reaches a certain stage, it can trigger an attack.

Typical symptoms include:

  • Chest pain that feels like heaviness, fullness and a weight crushing the heart
  • Pain starts in the chest and radiates towards arms, neck and back
  • Pain is recurring, with each interval lasting more than a few minutes
  • Cold sweat and shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling extremely tired
  • Feeling dizzy

What is Angina?

While heart attack is caused by a blockage in the arteries, angina is caused by narrowing of the arteries. Think of heart attack as a traffic jam on a highway that stops traffic, and angina as a bottleneck in the highway that slows down traffic. Symptoms of angina are similar to that of heart attack except that in angina; the pain goes away after resting, or medication.

What is Heartburn?

Heartburn has nothing do with the heart, and should be called ‘Gastric burn’. The stomach is immune to the acid produced by it for digestion. However, the esophagus or the food-pipe is not immune and experiences a burning sensation when acid flows up from the stomach. This happens when the person is lying down or bending over, and typically occurs after a heavy or spicy meal.

Typical symptoms include:

  • A shooting pain in the upper abdomen that moves up to the chest region
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sour taste in the mouth
  • Some food content coming into your mouth

How to tell them apart?

Interestingly, patients who have experienced any of these 3 conditions report similar symptoms. Although shortness of breath, sweating and dizziness is not a typical symptom of heartburn, if the person’s overall health is poor, (s)he could experience these symptoms. Further, for people with blocked or narrowing arteries, an incident of heartburn could trigger a heart attack soon after. Even doctors find it difficult to tell them apart, which is why once you are admitted for any of these conditions, Cardiologist run a series of tests to rule out a cardiac arrest.

What is the best course of action?

Even if you have experienced two or more of these conditions and can tell them apart, it’s best to not take any chances. Blockages or narrowing of the arteries can develop in a short period of time, so unless you have had a comprehensive health checkup in the recent past, you cannot say for sure what triggered the condition. Play safe and seek emergency medical help immediately, when any of these symptoms occur.


Kauvery Hospital is globally known for its multidisciplinary services at all its Centers of Excellence, and for its comprehensive, Avant-Grade technology, especially in diagnostics and remedial care in heart diseases, transplantation, vascular and neurosciences medicine. Located in the heart of Trichy (Tennur, Royal Road and Alexandria Road (Cantonment), Chennai, Hosur, Salem, Tirunelveli and Bengaluru, the hospital also renders adult and pediatric trauma care.

Chennai – 044 4000 6000 • Trichy – Cantonment – 0431 4077777 • Trichy – Heartcity – 0431 4003500 • Trichy – Tennur – 0431 4022555 • Hosur – 04344 272727 • Salem – 0427 2677777 • Tirunelveli – 0462 4006000 • Bengaluru – 080 6801 6801

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  1. Neha Dhain
    November 20, 02:12 #1 Neha Dhain

    We often confuse heart burn with heart attack and vice versa. Good info!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Sudha Ramamoorthy
    December 24, 05:29 #2 Sudha Ramamoorthy

    There is a lot of information that we don’t know about heart diseases. Thanks for sharing this article.

    Reply to this comment

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