Indigestion, also known as heartburn, can be mistaken for a heart attack, reports the American Heart Association. Unlike heart attack-related pain, the pain caused by heartburn often disappears after a person burps. However, patients should visit a doctor immediately for chest pain if unable to distinguish between the two conditions.
Heartburn occurs when stomach acid rises up into the esophagus. This commonly causes chest or jaw pain because the esophagus is located close to the heart, according to the American Heart Association.
In contrast, a heart attack occurs when blood flow in the heart is interrupted by a blood clot or spasm of the coronary artery, according to WebMD. Heart attack symptoms last longer than 30 minutes and do not go away after burping, reminds the American Heart Association. The symptoms also do not go away after rest or taking a nitroglycerine tablet. Heart attack symptoms commonly include rapid or irregular heartbeat, extreme anxiety or weakness, pain in the chest or arm, nausea or sweating, according to WebMD.
A heart attack is diagnosed using an ECG, blood tests, echocardiography or cardiac catheterization. Immediately after or during a heart attack, patients receive aspirin, antiplatelets or thrombolytic therapy to relieve symptoms. After the heart attack, some patients may undergo bypass surgery or angioplasty to help restore some lost cardiac function, reports WebMD.