Heart Attack vs GERD-Related Chest Pain: What’s the Difference?

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Among all the sensations and symptoms that anyone will experience in their lifetime, chest pain has brought about more panic and worry than any other.

Although the root cause may vary from minor to major, most people associate the feeling with an impending demise or life-changing situation because of how foreign it is as opposed to other types of pain or discomfort. Chest pains are often associated with cardiovascular diseases or problems because of the proximity to the heart itself and the crippling nature of its effects.

In recent years, the topic of this sensation has experienced a shift from being a guaranteed sign of a heart attack to a two-sided possibility as more people have been associating it with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). As a result of this recent development, many now find themselves asking this question when they experience chest pain: Is the chest pain I’m feeling because of GERD or a heart attack?

This particular question has established itself as a matter of importance because telling both probable causes apart can make the difference between life and death. Fortunately, staying safe and avoiding the risk of a potentially-fatal initial misdiagnosis can be done by knowing the important details that will be shared in this guide.

Distinguishing both conditions from one another

To best understand what’s happening when you experience chest pain and tell what the root cause of the problem is, here’s a comparison of both conditions according to two vital factors:

Factor #1: The location of the chest pain

Generally, the chest pain associated with GERD and a heart attack is located right in the chest area. However, the exact location of where the pain comes from and where else it emanates is the differentiating factor in this equation.

When it comes to acid reflux, the chest pain is located in the middle of the chest and right underneath the breastbone or sternum and only stays in that particular area. On the other hand, the chest pain associated with a heart attack also occurs behind the breastbone but also spreads to other parts of the body, ranging from the shoulders and arms to the jaw and teeth.

Factor #2: The type of pain being experienced

The type of pain that is associated with a heart attack can be best described as one that is constant and feels tight and pressured while remaining stable even during rest. Alternatively, the chest pain that occurs during GERD is described as one similar to a burning sensation or intense stabbing pain that pools right under the skin as a result of leaking acid moving upwards.


While the feeling of experiencing chest pain may be understandably daunting, it’s vital to understand that there is a possibility that it may be caused by a less serious condition like GERD. By taking the time to follow this guide closely and understand the key differences between the sensations of a heart attack-related chest pain and one linked to acid reflux, you’ll be able to act accordingly to avoid potential long-term damage or even death!

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