Is It Heartburn — or a Heart Attack?

Here’s what you need to know.

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Is It Heartburn — or a Heart Attack?

Important note: If you have any chest pain that lasts for more than a few minutes or any warning signs of a heart attack (for example, pain spreading to arms, neck or shoulders with shortness of breath; sweating; light-headedness), seek immediate medical attention.

Heartburn affects different people in different ways. But the symptoms of heartburn are generally described as:

  • A burning chest pain that begins at the breastbone and moves up toward the throat
  • A feeling that food is coming back into the mouth
  • An acidic or bitter taste at the back of the throat
  • An increase in severity of pain when you’re lying down or bending over

The pain associated with a heart attack can also be felt in the chest. And although only a doctor can determine whether you’ve suffered a heart attack, common heart attack or angina symptoms include:

  • A feeling of fullness, tightness or dull pressure or pain, generally in the center of the chest
  • Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck or arms
  • A cold sweat
  • Light-headedness, weakness or dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and possible vomiting

Additional key differences between heartburn and a heart attack:

  • Heartburn pain generally doesn’t radiate to the shoulders, neck or arms, though it may
  • Heartburn pain usually comes after meals
  • Heartburn symptoms usually respond quickly to antacids
  • Heartburn is rarely accompanied by a cold sweat, light-headedness or dizziness


The material in this site is intended to be of general informational use and is not intended to constitute medical advice, probable diagnosis or recommended treatments. OTC PPIs are only indicated for treatment of frequent heartburn. For severe heartburn or heartburn that persists after trying over-the-counter treatment or lifestyle modifications, visit your doctor to determine the right treatment for you. See the Terms and Conditions for more information.