Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Top 10 Heart Attack Symptoms That Should Have You Calling 911


Did you know that feelings of indigestion are commonly associated with heart attack? If not, you're not alone. Indigestion is a lesser-known heart attack symptom. And like fatigue, it can be a confusing one. This is because indigestion is caused by a variety of different conditions, including ulcers, gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), cancer, or certain pancreatic conditions [source: NIDDK]. The good news is that there are ways of knowing whether feelings of indigestion are caused by a heart attack.

When indigestion is associated with a heart attack, it is usually also accompanied by other symptoms, including chest pain, shortness of breath, and pain or tightness in the arms, neck, upper back, or jaw. You may also feel nausea or sweatiness, neither of which are signs of indigestion. There are also other telltale signs of indigestion that are not linked with heart attack, such as a burning sensation in the back of the throat [source: NIDDK]. If you're having heartburn and not experiencing other typical heart attack symptoms, take an antacid. If that cures the problem, it's unlikely that your ticker is in trouble.

Indigestion may not be one of the classic signs of heart attack, but it's not uncommon, particularly among females [source: AHA].

Indigestion is a particularly dangerous heart attack symptom because it's so easily attributed to something else. Evidence suggests that people having a heart attack are more likely to delay calling for help if their symptoms were easily confused with indigestion [source: WebMD]. The next symptom in our list, jaw pain, is also potentially confusing, though difficult to ignore.