The symptoms of heart attack and indigestion or heartburn are very similar, which is why all instances of chest pain require evaluation by a medical professional, notes Mayo Clinic. The most common symptom of a heart attack is discomfort or pain in the chest, although a burning sensation that begins in the upper stomach and travels to the chest is a symptom of heartburn, making it difficult to differentiate between the two. One differentiating factor between heartburn and heart attack is that the pain from heartburn generally occurs after eating or while bending over or lying down, whereas a heart attack causes chest pain that usually, though not always, occurs after exertion and is a crushing, sudden chest pain that makes it difficult to breathe.
Heartburn symptoms may cause the sufferer to awaken from sleep and are often experienced alongside a sour taste in the mouth or the regurgitation of food into the back of the throat, advises Mayo Clinic. Antacids generally relieve heartburn. By contrast, heart attack symptoms may cause tightness, squeezing, pain and pressure in the chest and arms, and the sensations may radiate into the back, jaw and neck. Shortness of breath, fatigue, cold sweat and sudden dizziness or lightheadedness may also occur. Heartburn, indigestion, abdominal pain and nausea may accompany heartburn symptoms, adding to the confusion.