Is it Heartburn or Heart Attack?

August 12, 2008

The name “heartburn” is a paradox. Though called so, ‘heartburn’ does not have any relation with the heart or its function. Heartburn relates to some sort of discomfort and a burning sensation in the chest accompanied by a sour or bitter taste in the mouth. Heartburn troubles you when the opening between the esophagus and the stomach fails to close after the passage of food into the stomach. At this juncture, the acid from the stomach enters the esophagus causing a burning feeling or warmth beneath the breastbone. Hence the other name, acid reflux.

Certain food stuff including spicy food or tomatoes may cause heartburn. Heartburn occurs commonly after overeating or while doing some activities like bending over or when lying down. It also occurs frequently when your are pregnant or under great stress. Scientists point to some other causes like tobacco, smoking, intake of caffeinated drinks, fatty and friend food items, drinking, citrus juices, lying down after eating (especially a wholesome meal), chocolates etc. are some triggers of a heartburn. The causes surely varies from person to person.

Heartburn may manifest itself in different ways. Other than the burning sensation in the chest or throat you may have difficulty in swallowing, chronic cough, chest pain while bending over or while lying down and so on. If you have heartburn often then you probably have GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Heart attack has similar symptoms and chest pain is the most common of them.

  • A feeling of fullness, tightness, or pain generally in the center of the chest.
  • Sudden chest pain or pressure in the chest that worsens in time. The pain gradually spreads to shoulders, neck, jaw or arms. If the pain lasts for more than a few minutes do not hesitate to seek medical attention.
  • A tightening feeling around your chest
  • Pain in the upper belly
  • Dizziness or light headedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fast or uneven heart beat
  • As different to heartburn, heart attack is often accompanied by cold sweat and/or vomiting.

Remember that some medicines also can cause Heartburn. Some of them are anti-inflammatory drugs, antihistamines, anti anxiety medicines and so on.

How to tackle heartburn

  • Be watchful on what you eat and when you eat. Abstain from eating citrus fruits, chocolates or any food that causes a heartburn for you. Try to eat an early and frugal dinner. Avoid lying down immediately after a meal even if you do not have a heartburn.
  • Quit smoking or using tobacco.
  • Try taking antacids. Avoid any medication (Advil, Ibuprofen) that can cause heartburn. Ask your doctor for medicines especially painkillers which will not cause heartburn.
  • Lose weight.

However, if you get heartburn often in spite of your precautions or if your heartburn lasts for more than 2 weeks consult your GP without delay.

-Aparna K V

Subscribe to My Newsletter
Get more information on how to live a healthy lifestyle through natural remedies.
Name: 
Email: