Can GERD Cause Heart Attack?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) itself does not directly cause a heart attack. However, the symptoms of GERD, particularly severe chest pain and discomfort, can sometimes mimic the symptoms of a heart attack. This can be a cause for concern because it may lead someone to mistake their GERD symptoms for a heart attack or vice versa. Here’s how GERD can be related to this confusion:

  • Chest Pain: GERD can cause chest pain or discomfort, which is often described as a burning sensation behind the breastbone. This pain can sometimes be severe and may radiate to the neck, throat, or arms, similar to the chest pain associated with a heart attack.
  • Anxiety and Stress: Experiencing severe GERD symptoms can be distressing and cause anxiety. Anxiety and stress can, in turn, exacerbate chest pain and discomfort, making it more difficult to distinguish between GERD and a heart attack.
  • Co-Occurrence: Some individuals with GERD may also have risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. In such cases, it is possible to have both GERD and a heart condition, but GERD itself does not directly cause a heart attack.

It is crucial to differentiate between GERD and a heart attack because the treatment and management of these conditions are very different. If you experience chest pain or discomfort, especially if it is severe, persistent, or associated with other concerning symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, or pain radiating to the arm, you should seek immediate medical attention. It’s better to have a healthcare professional evaluate your symptoms to rule out a heart attack or other serious medical conditions. If GERD is the cause of your chest pain, your healthcare provider can recommend appropriate treatments to manage the condition.