Chest Pain: Is it a Heart Attack or Something Else?

If you have suffered chest pain, you know how scary it can be. You may have even had a complete cardiac evaluation from your physician. However, the tests were negative – you have no heart issue, but you’re still suffering from chest pain? What else may be causing this?

One of the most common causes of chest pain – besides your heart – is gastroesophageal reflux disease, more commonly referred to as GERD. The symptoms associated with GERD and a heart attack are quite similar.

What’s GERD?

There are many people who experience this condition. It is most recognized by heartburn or indigestion, which creates a burning sensation in your chest. Heartburn occurs if acid moves out of your stomach and up into the esophagus. GERD is typically diagnosed when a person has frequent or severe (more than two times a week) heartburn.

GERD or Heart Attack?

Getting to know the specific symptoms of these conditions will let you know when to go to the emergency room and when you can settle for a doctor’s appointment.

Symptoms of a heart attack that indicate you need medical attention right away include:

  • Sudden heaviness, tightness, pressure or pain in the chest
  • Extreme sweating
  • Issues breathing
  • Nausea
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Feeling lightheaded or faint
  • Pain in the arms, jaw, neck or shoulders
  • Abdominal pain, heartburn or indigestion

Symptoms of GERD that typically indicate you should see your doctor for treatment in the near future include:

  • Sour taste in the mouth
  • Chest pain that is burning or sharp in the upper abdomen or chest
  • Chronic cough
  • Increase in the pain when eating, lying down or bending over
  • Feeling like food is stuck in the chest or throat
  • Nausea
  • Issues swallowing
  • Abdominal pain, heartburn or indigestion

Keep in mind, you should never ignore symptoms that may indicate you are suffering a heart attack. You should also not excuse the symptoms as just being indigestion. In these situations, it is better to seek immediate medical help.

Treatment for GERD

After a heart attack is ruled out by a doctor, you should see a specialist to be evaluated for GERD. Not only will treatment help to alleviate the symptoms, which include chest burning and pain, the treatment will also help to keep GERD from developing into a more serious condition, which is called Barrett’s esophagus. This takes place when the acid from your stomach changes the composition of the cells in your esophagus. Even though this condition is rare, Barrett’s esophagus may lead to esophageal cancer.

In most cases, GERD can be easily treated with a few lifestyle changes, such as modifications to the diet and losing weight, and medication. There are currently several drugs available to reduce the production of stomach acid. A doctor will help determine the right solution for your particular situation.

If you are suffering symptoms of chest pain and heart issues have been ruled out, then it may be time to consider whether or not GERD is the culprit. If you would like to speak with a doctor, schedule an appointment at the Premier Health and Wellness center.