We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is the Connection between Indigestion and Heart Attack?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Feb 10, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Indigestion and heart attack are related because many times patients who think they are having heartburn or digestive upset are actually suffering from a heart attack. Many of the sensations and symptoms associated with indigestion are also common with cardiac distress. This means that sometimes heart attack symptoms go unnoticed or underreported by the patient because he believes he is suffering from indigestion, often resulting in a longer recovery or even death. In some cases, physicians may also have a hard time distinguishing between both conditions in patients who are complaining of generalized chest pain.

The reason many people can confuse the symptoms of indigestion with a heart attack is because both syndromes occur in close proximity of one another. The lower esophagus and upper stomach sit just above and below the heart muscle. Early heart attack symptoms are very similar to the burning sensation, uneasiness, and tightness associated with indigestion. In fact, many patients have gone in to the emergency room believing they were having a heart attack, only to be told they were suffering from trapped intestinal gas that had risen into the upper digestive tract. Individuals who are suffering from minor indigestion can take preventive measures to help alleviate their discomfort. For instance, Supergreens, which are packed with digestive enzymes, can help aid digestion.

Although sometimes subtle, there are some differences between indigestion and heart attack symptoms. Indigestion should generally be limited to the chest and stomach area, while a true heart attack may begin there and radiate into the left arm or shoulder. If severe vomiting, nausea, or shortness of breath are present, it should be assumed that the patient is not suffering from indigestion and medical treatment should be sought.

While many would believe that a heart attack is much more painful than indigestion, this is not always the case. In some instances, intestinal gas or stomach acid can cause severe pain in the chest cavity that can easily be confused with a heart attack. Patients have described the sensations as stabbing, aching, or pulsing. This why sometimes a doctor cannot tell the difference between indigestion and heart attack until further testing is completed.

As a general rule of thumb, one may be able to tell the difference between indigestion and heart attack by trying a few basic pain relief tactics. For instance, pain from indigestion may be alleviated by changing positions to a more upright posture, while a heart attack would not be affected. Over the counter medications, like antacids, may also help alleviate symptoms of indigestion but would have no effect on heart attack symptoms.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources
Discussion Comments
By burcinc — On May 06, 2013

@fify-- Unless you carry a risk of heart attacks, that's not a very good idea. Have you seen a doctor about your symptoms? If your heart is fine, but have stomach issues, don't take aspirin even if it feels like a heart attack. Taking a pain reliever can cause ulcers in an already sensitive stomach.

My suggestion would be to take antacids and sit upright. If it happens at night, sleep with three pillows under your head to keep the acidity down. You can sip on warm milk or water as well.

If these don't work and you start experiencing other symptoms, then you should go to the hospital. Also keep in mind that the thought of having a heart attack can lead to anxiety and increased blood pressure or heart palpitations. So try to avoid assuming this unless you're really experiencing signs of a heart attack.

By fify — On May 06, 2013

Sometimes I have severe pain in my chest area and I have difficulty breathing because of indigestion. When I have such pain and I'm not sure what's causing it, should I take an aspirin just in case?

By ddljohn — On May 06, 2013

A heart attack can seem like indigestion but it can go the other way too, indigestion can seem like a heart attack.

When the stomach produces too much acid due to indigestion, the acid travels up into the esophagus and causes irritation and inflammation there. Because of the proximity of the esophagus and the heart to one another, indigestion can seem like a heart attack.

I had acid reflux disease several years ago and a few times, I went to the hospital confusing my acid reflux symptoms with symptoms of a heart attack.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.