Chest Pain: Is it Heartburn or a Heart Attack?

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Chest pain can be painful and frightening. How do you know whether it is a sign of a heart attack, or whether it is related to digestive issues such as heartburn?

Heartburn is usually characterized by a slowly spreading burning sensation. Attacks can last up to a few hours. Usually, they can be quelled with the use of an antacid. Often, heartburn will come on if you lie down too soon after eating a large meal. Heartburn can also be triggered by spicy, fatty or acidic foods.

The following are signs that point to a heart attack, and mean that you should get medical attention right away:

  • Tightness or pressure felt in your chest during physical activity.
  • Sudden, crushing pain in the middle of your chest that lasts for a few minutes.
  • Chest pain that radiates down your left arm or moves up into your jaw, back or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chest pain that comes with dizziness or weakness.

You should call a doctor about chest pains if you have had a heart attack in the past. If you smoke, are overweight or have high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes, you are at a higher risk for a heart attack, and should talk to a doctor about chest pains.

Occasional heartburn is not uncommon, and generally not something to worry about. If you experience chest pain or heartburn often, it could be a sign that you have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Consult an Albany area doctor if you experience heartburn frequently, or have other symptoms such as bloating or regurgitation.

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