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Dr. Oz on heartburn and heart attacks: Know the difference to save a life

Heart attacks and heartburn
Heart attacks and heartburn
Photo credit: Getty Images

During the May 28 episode of the Dr. Oz Show, Dr. Oz provided some clarity on the symptoms of a heart attack and heartburn. While both conditions have similar symptoms a heart attack can cause immediate death and heartburn can lead to esophageal cancer.

Heart attack

A heart attack is the result of death of tissue in the heart due to a lack of blood supply. The damage caused to the heart from a heart attack is permanent. Some of the causes of a heart attack include fatty matter, calcium, proteins, and inflammatory cell build up within the arteries which causes plaque.

Symptoms of a heart attack include: shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and rapid or irregular heartbeat. Symptoms may last 30 minutes or longer and are not relieved by resting.


Heartburn or acid indigestion is a burning sensation in the chest and may radiate to the neck, throat or jaw. Heart burn is triggered by certain foods, obesity, medications, and stress. It is mainly caused by gastric reflux, which is when the digestive fluid rises into the esophagus.

Some of the causes of heart burn or acid reflux include: smoking, caffeine, spicy foods, alcohol, fatty foods, and tomato based foods. Lying down immediately after eating causes acid reflux which may lead to heart burn.

A recurrence of heartburn is more serious than many people are aware. Heartburn is a crucial link to esophageal cancer. Esophageal cancer is the fastest growing form of cancer in the United States. The American Cancer Society predicts 18,000 new cases will be reported this year and nearly 85% will not survive.

A regular occurrence of heartburn is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and is diagnosed when one suffers from heartburn at least twice per week. This condition is serious as it can develop into Barrett’s esophagus which will increase the risk of esophageal cancer.

How to prevent acid reflux

Dr. Oz offered a few tips to help prevent acid reflux and reduce your chances of having esophageal cancer. These tips serve as a preventative measure but should not replace treatment by your doctor. Preventative tips include: not smoking, taking antacids when needed, allow your food to digest before lying down, cut out fatty foods, and getting in shape will help to greatly reduce occurrences of hurt burn and acid reflux.

Dr. Oz also co authored a book called “YOU: The Owner’s Manual: An Insider’s Guide to the Body That Will Make You Healthier and Younger". In this #1 New York Times bestseller Dr. Oz and Dr. Michael F. Rozen share tips on how to gain complete control over your body and health.

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