Is It Heartburn or Heart Pain?

Knowing the difference may not be easy

Both angina and heartburn cause chest pain, which may radiate to the neck, jaw or arm.

Heartburn or acid indigestion happens when stomach acid flows back into the  esophagus, while angina is due to lack of oxygen supplied to the heart muscle.


It is sometimes difficult to distinguish where the pain is coming from because the esophagus is close to the heart.

Here are some clues that it might be angina, if the chest pain is accompanied by either :

  • Shortness of breath
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Feeling very tired or lacking in energy

On the other hand heartburn is accompanied by a bitter or acid taste in the mouth, reflux of food, or a burning in the throat.

However, everyone is different, and not all symptoms may occur. If you doubt, consult your doctor to determine whether the chest pain is due to heartburn or angina.

Understanding Angina

Angina is not a disease. It is a symptom of an underlying heart problem and a warning sign that your heart muscle is not getting enough oxygen because one or more of the arteries supplying blood to your heart are narrowed or blocked. The blockages form on the inside walls of the arteries and are made up of fats, such as cholesterol, and other debris.


Knowing the types of angina and how they differ is important. The most common form is Stable angina, this may occur at regular times, the arteries are narrowed and the pain is temporary, relieved by rest or medication.

Sometimes stable angina turns into Unstable angina where the chest pain happens at rest, is more intense and lasts longer. The arterial blockages are large and can lead to  heart damage.

Anginal pain can be triggered by imagesN32GH3PJstrong emotions such as stress or anger, physical exertion, exposure to hot or cold temperature extremes, smoking or a heavy meal.

There are several risk factors for angina which include:

  • High cholesterol levels
  • Family history of early heart disease
  • Smoking
  • Diabetesli-blood-pressure-istock-00
  • Obesity
  • Inactivity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • High blood pressure
  • Older age ( the risk increases for men after 45 years of age and for women after 55 years of age)


Treatment of Angina

Angina can be treated by medicines, surgery and a healthier lifestyle. Consult your doctor to determine the best treatment for you and to prevent further heart problems.

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