Hey Mama,

We know weekday schedules can be chaotic. Between morning drop offs, school, sports and other busy extracurricular activities – it’s hard to get a healthy, balanced meal on the table. When we lack the time, expense and energy we naturally turn to fast food, frozen or processed meals to keep our bellies full as we knock out the week. These choices may lead to experiencing heartburn or acid reflux.

Acid reflux usually occurs after eating a big meal or eating too close to laying down before bed. While uncomfortable, most of the time acid reflux is temporary and can be managed with over-the-counter antacid medications such as Tums or Mylanta. If your heartburn fails to respond to these simple measures, you should know when to see your doctor because there are certain symptoms that either accompany or can be mistaken for acid reflux that may require immediate medical attention. 

What’s the difference between Heartburn and a Heart Attack?

Heartburn happens when your stomach’s digestive acids make its way back up your esophagus, irritating it in the process. Symptoms of heartburn include:

  • Burning pain in the upper abdomen and moves up into the chest (usually occurs after eating) 
  • Pain that worsens while lying down or bending over 
  • Bitter or acidic taste in mouth

If over-the-counter medications aren’t helping with acid reflux and you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, seek immediate medical care. Symptoms of heart attack may include:

  • Severe chest pain or pressure, especially when combined with other symptoms such as pain in jaw or difficulty breathing.
  • Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint. You may also break out into a cold sweat.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders.
  • Sudden fatigue.
  • Nausea, indigestion or abdominal pain
  • Heartburn itself can accompany symptoms of a heart attack


When Should I Visit an ER for Heartburn?

Heartburn and heart attack can feel similar. Many people will chalk various other symptoms up as heartburn, acid reflux or indigestion. Symptoms that go beyond heartburn are not incidental, and could be a sign of something more serious. Seek help if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Feeling confused or sudden weakness
  • If you feel like the reflux has moved/relocated from how you typically experience it
  • Persistent stomach cramps
  • Inability to eat or swallow food 
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness
  • Vomit that has blood or is black
  • Stool that is black or you see blood 
  • Immediate weight loss


Both heartburn and a developing heart attack can cause symptoms that subside after a while. The pain doesn’t have to last a long time to be a warning sign. Not sure if you’re experiencing severe heartburn or a heart attack?? Visit Texas Emergency Care Center. Whether it’s a bad case of heartburn or something more serious, we have the tools and tests to rule out a heart attack. You’ll be seen fast by our board certified ER doctors that have diagnostic capabilities like an ECG and advanced CT imaging to give you peace of mind.