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Can Chest Pain Be Related to Acid Reflux, or Is It Something More Serious?

Can Chest Pain Be Related to Acid Reflux, or Is It Something More Serious?

Considering that someone has a heart attack in the United States every 40 seconds and heart disease is the leading cause of death in our country, you have every right to be concerned about this serious event.

While chest pain is one of the hallmarks of a heart attack, this symptom can also crop up with far less serious issues, such as acid reflux, which affects about 20% of adults in Western cultures. 

In fact, of the 8 million visits to emergency rooms each year due to chest pain, more than half are found to be related to acid reflux and not heart issues.

The team here at James Kim Cardiology, with board-certified cardiologist Dr. James Kim at the helm, always wants you to err on the side of caution when it comes to chest pain, but we also want to cover some rules of thumb for distinguishing heart attacks from acid reflux. Let’s take a look.

The chest pain that often comes with acid reflux

Let’s first review the type of chest discomfort that people who have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) often encounter. With GERD, stomach acids make their way up into your esophagus, where they can irritate the sensitive tissues that line your throat.

Most people complain of a burning sensation in their throats and chest, which is why acid reflux and GERD are commonly referred to as heartburn. This pain often develops on the heels of eating or when you lie down, which allows stomach acids to more easily flow backward. 

As well, heartburn tends to flare if you bend over, and it’s often accompanied by a sour taste in your mouth. With acid reflux, you may also belch and feel like something is rising in your throat.

Signs of a heart attack

Now let’s take a look at the more common signs of a heart attack, which often starts with chest pain. This pain can also feel like a heaviness or pressure in your chest, and it often radiates to your upper back, left shoulder, and into your jaw.

What really sets heart-attack-related chest pain apart from other issues is that the symptom is often accompanied by:

These symptoms often come on suddenly, and they can be quite severe.

Taking action with chest pain

When you’re in the throes of chest pain, it can be hard to think clearly. If you’re at all unsure, we urge you to seek medical attention as soon as possible. A few hours at the ER to get to the bottom of your chest pain is time well spent, even if they find the problem stems from GERD.

If your chest pain seems to be isolated and comes and goes like acid reflux, we suggest that you make an appointment to come see us so we can be sure it’s related to digestion and not a cardiovascular issue like a heart attack.

To get to the bottom of your chest pain, please contact us at one of our offices in Chula Vista or National City, California, to schedule an appointment.

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