Most of us have experienced that burning sensation in our chests at one time or another. You eat a big, spicy meal and chalk it up to heartburn and turn to some over the counter remedies to take care of it. But what happens when it’s more than that? Could you tell the difference between heartburn or a heart attack?
Chest pain or discomfort can often be the most common symptom of both. With heartburn, you also might feel a burning sensation that can radiate from your chest up to your neck. And often, heartburn is just that, heartburn. But all too often, that chest pain can be a symptom of something more serious.
Signs and Symptoms
If you are experiencing heartburn symptoms that seem to be different than before, or if it continues longer than previous attacks, you might be experiencing symptoms of a heart attack. If the pain is accompanied by shortness of breath, jaw pain or pain in the extremities, you should seek medical attention. According to the American Heart Association, the most common signs of a heart attack include:
- Chest discomfort or pain – this pain can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. It can feel like pressure or squeezing in the chest.
- Discomfort or pain in one or both arms, or in the jaw or back
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or lightheadedness
While women commonly experience the same chest pain or discomfort as men, they are more likely to experience pain in other areas of the body, such as the jaw or back, experience nausea and vomiting or sometimes complain of a sense of profound fatigue.
The most important thing is to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms and call 9-1-1 immediately if you think you are having a heart attack. Despite the awareness and education about heart disease, it’s still the number one cause of death in America, and the faster you receive treatment, the better your chances of a successful outcome.
Scott & White is one of only a few hospitals in Central Texas with a system for responding 24/7 to heart attacks, which can shave precious minutes off of the time it takes to get a patient in for treatment. But it’s important to know the signs and symptoms and not to delay treatment! Minutes can save lives, and the longer you wait, the greater the risk of permanent damage or even death.