Does Heartburn Have Anything to Do With the Heart?

The short answer to that question is no.

The term heartburn originates from the burning sensation which can be felt in the middle of the chest close to the heart.  It is pain caused by the damage to the esophagus that the reflux of acid from the stomach causes and it has nothing to do with the heart at all. However, having said that heartburn has nothing to do with the heart, the symptoms of heartburn can be very similar to the signs of heart disease. If you experience heartburn with any of the symptoms listed below you should consult your doctor immediately as it may possibly mean that you’re having a heart attack.

  • Pain radiating into your back, neck, jaw, shoulders or arms — especially your left arm
  • Sudden pressure, tightening, squeezing or crushing pain in the center of the chest that doesn’t disappear after a few minutes
  • Feeling light-headed or dizzy
  • Being short of breath or having difficulty breathing
  • Becoming clammy or sweaty
  • Vomiting with blood
  • Bloody or black stools

You should also contact your doctor immediately if your heartburn feels different or more severe than normal and it occurs during or immediately following physical activity or, if you experience any new chest pain or discomfort and you smoke, are overweight or have heart disease diabetes, high cholesterol or previously had a heart attack.  Remember that correct diagnosis and prompt medical treatment can save lives.  Although the occasional occurrence of heartburn is extremely common and should be of little concern, if you are regularly experiencing heartburn you need to speak with your doctor as this could mean you have an ulcer or other underlying health condition. Heartburn caused by acid reflux usually increases after eating but if your heartburn is worse before eating, it can be a sign that you have an ulcer.

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