Pain in the chest is always scary to experience. There are numerous potential causes of pain in the chest, not all of which are detrimental. What makes chest pain so scary, though, is that the symptoms of many chest pain causing problems have a lot of overlap with heart attack symptoms.
Gas or heartburn is a common cause of chest pain. Rare heartburn is typically not harmful, but it does share many symptoms with heart attacks. Even experienced doctors may have difficulty differentiating between heartburn and heart attack based solely on symptoms. When in doubt as to the cause of your chest pain, it is always best to err on the side of caution and seek emergency medical attention. Specialized medical testing may be necessary to determine the cause of pain and every minute may count if the pain is caused by a heart attack. Despite the overlap in symptoms, there may be differences.
Proximity to meals may indicate the difference between heartburn and heart attack. If pain in the upper abdomen and/or chest is present relatively soon after eating and subsides fairly quickly, with or without the use of antacids, heartburn may be the culprit. The discomfort caused by a heart attack may be caused at any time, regardless of how long ago the patient ate or what was eaten. The pain response to movement may also be an indicator. If a person experiences more or less pain based on their position, such as having more severe pain while lying down, the chest pain may be caused by heartburn. This is not to say that a patient experiencing a heart attack will absolutely never find a position that makes the pain less prevalent. Paying attention to whether the pain radiates from the chest or not may also be a key indicator. If pain that starts in the chest spreads to the back, arms, or jaw, it may be a heart attack and medical attention should be sought immediately. Heartburn pain is typically pretty much stationary, and often feels like a burning underneath the breast bone. This pain may radiate down towards the stomach or lead to an unpleasant, sour taste in the back of the mouth.
If you are concerned about pain in your chest, seek emergency medical attention immediately.