Heart disease and heartburn are caused by two entirely different things. Heartburn is due to regurgitation of gastric acid after eating. Heart disease is due to a number of factors such as genetics, but largely diet and lifestyle – eating poorly, being overweight and being sedentary – and has similar but different symptoms. Symptoms of heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease are the same except that the latter is chronic. Both are different from indigestion, which is caused by eating too quickly or eating foods that one has difficulty digesting.
If you have heartburn, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Sharp burning in the chest/throat area
- Difficulty swallowing
- The feeling of food being stuck in our throats
- A sore throat or hoarseness
- An acidic-tasting liquid in our throats
- Pain in the chest
Heartburn can be treated with a few remedies, including over the counter antacids and, of course, better eating habits. If you eat the right foods, eat slowly, eat at the right times, refrain from heavy activity or sleeping after eating, and other steps, you can ease heartburn.
However, some people with chronic heartburn, regardless of how much they try, may experience recurring symptoms and may be the victims of other afflictions. An associated disease is Gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Known as GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease or acid reflux disease, is the result of mucosal damage brought on by stomach acid shooting up from the stomach and into the esophagus. This affliction is usually caused by changes in the barrier between the stomach and the esophagus. The symptoms, however, are the same as heartburn, except that GERD is chronic.
You should consult a doctor and take prescription drugs to correct it. If left untreated, GERD can lead to cancer, ulcers in the stomach and esophagus, a narrowing of the esophagus, and intestinal metaplasia.
Heartburn and indigestion are not the same thing. When you eat too quickly, eat the wrong foods, eat at the wrong times, or having poor health due to smoking, you can experience indigestion.
Symptoms associated with indigestion include:
- A bloated, heavy feeling
- Upset stomach
- Belching and/or gas
- Growling stomach, not from hunger
- Burning in stomach or upper abdomen
- Sharp or dull abdominal pain
- Nausea and/or vomiting
Indigestion is usually not a sign of a more serious health problem, unless other symptoms also occur, such as
weight loss or trouble swallowing. Indigestion may be triggered by, drinking too much alcohol, eating spicy, fatty, or greasy foods, overeating, eating too fast, emotional stress or nervousness, smoking or too much caffeine.
Most over the counter and prescription treatments will help to ease the effects of indigestion.
The symptoms of heart disease vary a lot depending on the type of disease and the stage it is in. In general, the build-up of fatty deposits in the linings of the walls of the coronary arteries causing reduced blood flow to the heart (called ischemia) can also mimic symptoms of heartburn. However, there are some more symptoms to be aware of:
- Angina (chest pain either at rest or during exercise)
- Decreased exercise tolerance
- Worsening pain even after antacids
- Cold sweats
- Radiant pain, spreading to arms and jaw
- Tightness in the center of the chest
If you have heartburn-like symptoms associated with the above symptoms, it is important that you see a doctor immediately. If you recognise these symptoms in time, you can treat it with medications, a proper diet and exercise program, rest and lifestyle change (such as giving up smoking), before it develops into anything more serious.
As you can see, the symptoms of each of these ailments are very similar but they are caused by very different things. If you are in doubt what you are suffering from, you should seek the advice of a qualified medical doctor.