How do I know if my chest pain (angina pectoris) is coming from my
heart, or is only heartburn?
Heartburn is caused by problems within the stomach, itself, creating excessive stomach
acid. Most likely, if the pain is due to heartburn, it will respond to medications to
treat stomach upset, namely antacids or other medications known as H2 blockers.
Over-the-counter examples of H2 blockers are Pepcid, Tagamet, etc. Sharp chest pain which
lasts less than one minute is usually not angina, but frequent episodes should be explored
by either a cardiologist (heart) or gastro- enterologist (stomach) physician. Angina
pectoris is a symptom of heart trouble and, as with the pain of an actual heart attack, it
is unique to the individual. It may be experienced as pain, pressure, or discomfort in the
middle of the chest. It may also present as tightness or burning. Angina has also been
likened to a vise around the chest or a heavy weight and, again, as with an actual heart
attack, the discomfort may be felt in the neck, with radiation to the arm, jaw, lower
teeth, back or abdomen. If you have been diagnosed as having angina, you should take
measures to reduce the risk of progressive heart disease, thereby reducing the likelihood
of a heart attack with extensive heart damage. If you smoke, quit. If you are overweight,
trim down. Control your high blood pressure or diabetes, and eat a healthy diet. Maintain
a realistic exercise program, and follow up with any medical recommendations your
physician has given you.