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Is Your Chest Pain Due to Acid Reflux?

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Updated February 26, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: Is Your Chest Pain Due to Acid Reflux?
Answer: Chest pain can be a symptom of several conditions, and one of the most serious conditions is a heart attack. Therefore, chest pain should always be reported promptly to your doctor, especially when accompanied by select other symptoms.

However, in many cases, chest pain can be caused by one of several digestive conditions. In fact, some studies suggest that over one third of patients who experience chest pain were actually experiencing symptoms cause by GERD.

The digestive conditions that may cause chest pain include:

With both GERD and a hiatal hernia, the chest pain usually starts behind the breastbone (the sternum), and may travel up to the throat. It usually occurs shortly after eating, and can last from a few minutes to several hours.

It is important to remember that the pain of a heart attack can sometimes be confused with the burning pain of GERD or a hiatal hernia, and it is always important to seek medical attention if there is any doubt as to the origin of this chest pain.

In some cases, pain from a peptic ulcer and a gallbladder attack radiates to the back or to the chest behind the breast bone, and may feel like a heart attack.

As mentioned earlier, any chest pain should be evaluated immediately to rule out a heart attack.

Sources:

"Common GI Problems" The American College of Gastroenterology http://www.acg.gi.org/patients/cgp/cgpvol1.asp#gerd

"Non-Cardiac Chest Pain" The American College of Gastroenterology http://www.acg.gi.org/patients/gihealth/NonCardiacChestPain.asp

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