Gastric Pain: Heart Attack or Heart Burn

September 06, 2019
Gastric Pain: Heart Attack or Heart Burn

Gastric Pain

Thanks to the food we eat these days and the lifestyle we follow, diseases small or big are always around the corner. Many of these problems which are being faced these days didn’t even exist some years back. The improper eating habits that most of us follow have allowed something like acidity to creep deeply into our daily lives so much that it is now among the most common occurrence in people irrespective of their age. It is the most common instance now a days to hear people complaining of gas or acidity. The gastric pain sometimes is so much that it is often mistaken for a minor heart attack.

Heart Burn or Heart Attack

Even though the name suggests so, heartburn really has no connection with the heart despite some of the symptoms being similar to a heart attack. Also called as acid indigestion, heartburn refers to an irritation of the esophagus (the tube connecting stomach and the back of the throat) which occurs due to the acid that refluxes or comes back from the stomach. While acidity takes place when the gastric glands produce large quantity of acid more than the amount required for the digestion process.

During a heartburn, the burning sensation can come along with chest pain, especially after bending over or lying down or eating. There is also burning at the back of one’s throat, long-term cough, sore throat, or hoarseness, the fluid that exists at the back of the throat also starts to taste hot, sour, acidic or salty. On the other hand, acidity can be called an acid reflux in itself, heartburn is more of a symptom of an Acid reflux or GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux disease)

Heartburn can also occur together with gas

While neither of the two is result of each other, one can very well worsen the other. Sometimes, an underlying condition causes both the above concerns. Even when both the conditions, heartburn and gas, relate to the digestives processes, both of these can have different causes and can also occur independent of each other.

A person’s stomach has been designed to withstand acid but that does not hold true for the food pipe that experiences the burning sensation. Stomach acid in the esophagus can result into more than just a burning sensation.

At times, it can also cause damage to the esophagus in the form of esophagitis, ulcers, difficulty or pain when swallowing, strictures (narrowing), esophageal spasm, and cBarretts esophagus which tends to further increase the chances of the esophagus cancer. Small lifestyle changes in your everyday routine and healthier eating habits can save you from any heartburn, excessive gas or acidity issues.

The most common triggers of heartburn includes,

  • Heavy, fatty foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol
  • Acidic foods, such as tomatoes
  • Smoking, obesity and pregnancy are among the risk factors that make a person more likely to experience heartburn. Triggers for acidity are also more or less the same.
  • Stomach abnormalities, smoking and pregnancy can get increase acidity chances
  • Spicy foods
  • Onions
  • Citrus products, tomato products, such as ketchup
  • Fatty or fried foods
  • Peppermint
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol, carbonated beverages, coffee or other caffeinated beverages

Author:

Dr. Jayakanth MJ (Consultant-Internal Medicine)

Columbia Asia Hospital Sarjapur Road