Heartburn Symptoms: Distinguishing The Dangerous Ones


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Heartburn symptoms affect up to 20 percent of Americans on a weekly basis and share many symptoms with a heart attack, according to WebMD. Because of this, distinguishing which heartburn symptoms are dangerous is important.

The brief definition of heartburn is that it occurs when stomach acid splashes from the stomach into the esophagus. The esophagus becomes irritated, causing the pain many associate with and call heartburn.

Other similar diseases are acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux diseases (GERD) and the three vary according to causes and severity of symptoms.

So, what are some of the symptoms of heartburn? They range from a burning feeling that can last from a few short minutes to several hours to chest pain especially when lying back or leaning over and even to a burning feeling in the back of the throat.

Many things can cause heartburn, including meals high in fat or oils, stress and lack of sleep which contribute to increased acid production, and smoking, which stimulates stomach acid.

But there are a few signs everyone should watch out for, especially if they have a history of heart problems. These include a tightening of the chest like a belt has been placed around it; shortness of breath and dizziness; and pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck, jaw, or arms.

Pain associated with heartburn generally comes after meals and generally not with a spreading of the pain to the shoulders, neck, jaw, or arms.

Ironwood Pharmaceuticals is currently investigating a compound—IW-3718—in patients suffering from GERD and say that the an estimated seven million people suffer regularly with symptoms in spite of proton pump inhibitors that are designed to slow acid production in the stomach.

“For many of these refractory GERD patients, research suggests reflux of bile acid from the intestine into the stomach and esophagus may play an important role in their ongoing suffering,” said Michael Hall, MB. BCh., senior vice president, clinical development of Ironwood.

He continued: “Refractory GERD is a significant unmet need among those suffering with gastrointestinal disorders, and we are investigating IW-3718 to assess whether it may help prevent bile acid reflux and provide relief for patients.”

Image from Wikimedia Commons