Heartburn or heart attack?

Knowing the difference could save your life

Heartburn Vs. Heart Attack

Cardiologist Damian Chaupin, M.D., explains how to tell the difference between everyday heartburn and a life-threatening heart attack.

Some of his patients, he says, mistake the two - the worse case scenario being they think they have heartburn, when in fact it's a heart attack.

So, how do we tell the difference? It could, after all, be a matter of life and death.

First, it's important to know that heartburn is a symptom of acid build-up in your stomach and doesn't have anything to do with your heart.

You may feel a burning sensation in your chest that starts in your upper abdomen and works its way up to your neck. Heartburn usually occurs after eating a greasy meal such as a hamburger, and can often feel worse when lying down. It usually goes away on its own or by taking an antacid.

Heart attacks may have similar symptoms, however the tell-take signs can include shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. One might also feel pain in the left arm, as well as in the neck, back and chest that feels worse when walking.

With any of these symptoms, it's important to seek medical attention right away. But the key is prevention. What can you do to reduce the chances of having a heart attack?

First, don't smoke. It causes the early onset of heart disease. Also, exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Finally, try and eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and lean meats. This reduces the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

It is also recommended you get regular screenings for high cholesterol and blood pressure.