The symptoms of heartburn and indigestion can mimic those of angina. Angina is chest pain caused by a lack of
blood flow to the heart, while heartburn is a burning sensation behind or directly below the breastbone (sternum).
The sensations can be very similar, but it’s very important to be able to tell the difference.
Angina requires medical attention, as it can be an indication of a heart disease or a heart attack. Heartburn, in mild
cases, doesn’t typically require medical attention, and it’s rarely an urgent situation. Heartburn, while not serious,
is an inconvenience and discomfort for those who experience it. It can also lead to more serious conditions if
episodes occur frequently over long periods of time. For instance, ulcers can develop from the damage caused by
stomach acid in the esophagus and esophageal cancer has been attributed to frequent heartburn.
Heartburn is best described as a burning sensation in the middle of the chest or directly below the breastbone. This
burning typically responds to antacids and it doesn’t radiate to the arms or shoulders, although the pain can travel
up the neck. Heartburn can also cause an acidic, salty or sour taste in the mouth and can sometimes cause
Heartburn is caused by the malfunctioning of the lower esophageal sphincter. Understanding the physiological
process behind heartburn can be helpful in differentiating the pain from angina. The lower esophageal sphincter
acts like a lid that prevents the contents of the stomach from traveling up the esophagus. If this sphincter doesn’t
close properly, stomach acids can leak out and into the esophagus, creating the burning sensation classic of
Angina is pain in the chest, less like a burning, that frequently radiates down the arms and into the shoulders.
Angina can also involve a feeling of tightness and pressure in the chest. Lightheadedness, dizziness and shortness of
breath may also accompany angina. The presence of these symptoms is a definite distinction be