Heart Disease Home > Heartburn or Heart Attack?

If you're not sure whether your chest pain is the result of a heart attack or simply heartburn, consider any other symptoms you are experiencing. For example, in addition to causing chest pain, heartburn can cause a bitter or acid taste in the mouth. Besides causing chest pain, heart attacks may result in symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, and weakness.

Heartburn, Heart Attack, or Neither?

Chest pain is a symptom that produces fear in many people. It can be a sign of something very serious and even life-threatening, such as a heart attack. But chest pain can also be a sign of something not so serious, such as a pulled muscle. So it's normal for people with chest discomfort to ask, "Are these heartburn or heart attack symptoms?"
To better understand the differences between the two conditions, it is helpful to compare their symptoms.

Comparing Heart Attack and Heartburn Symptoms

Many conditions can cause chest discomfort or pain. Other than a heart attack or heartburn, possible causes of chest pain include:
Pain and discomfort in the chest area can be a symptom of heartburn. This pain often is described as a burning sensation that may move up into the neck. Other heartburn symptoms include:
  • A sensation of food or liquid coming up into the throat or mouth (regurgitation), especially when bending over or lying down
  • Bitter or acid taste in the mouth.
Pain and discomfort are the main heart attack symptoms. This pain or discomfort:
  • Is often described as pressure, squeezing, burning, or tightness in the chest
  • Usually starts in the chest behind the breastbone
  • May also occur in the arms, shoulders, neck, jaw, throat, or back
  • May feel like indigestion.
One of the main differences between heartburn and heart attack symptoms is that with a heart attack, a person may also have:
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Lightheadedness
  • Weakness.
These symptoms of a heart attack are not normally associated with heartburn.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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