Gas pain in your chest: Is it a heart attack?

Gas, heartburn and heart attack can have similar signs: Know the difference.

You had a wonderful dinner with family and friends. While relaxing after the meal, a bit of gas prompts you to excuse yourself from the room. Then it hits you: a sharp, jabbing pain. The feeling rises up to your chest, and you have a sour taste in your mouth. Is it just gas pain in your chest? Can gas cause chest pain? Is it a heart attack? Do you take an antacid, or do you call 911?

Know the difference between gas, heartburn and heart attack signs.


While it can be embarrassing or annoying, it’s natural to pass gas 10 to 20 times a day. Signs of gas can be:

  • Passing gas through your mouth as burps or back side as flatulence
  • Sharp pains or cramps in your stomach or abdomen. Pain can move around your, and just as fast as the pain starts, it ends.
  • Feeling like your stomach is in knots
  • Bloating


Heartburn is mild discomfort or pain caused by stomach acid moving up through the esophagus (the tube that connects your stomach to your throat):

  • It can be a burning sensation in your stomach that moves up into the chest.
  • It can happen soon after eating, while lying down or when you bend over.
  • It may awaken you from sleep, especially if you have eaten within two hours of going to bed.
  • You may get a sour taste in your mouth — more often when lying down.
  • You may get the taste of something you recently ate in your mouth — not as dramatic as throwing up, but you may feel some food or acid in your mouth.
  • Taking antacids usually stops the heartburn.

Heart attack signs

  • Chest discomfort with heaviness, pressure, aching, burning, fullness or squeezing pain
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, left shoulder, neck, back, throat, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
  • Sudden fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weakness or lightheadedness
  • Cold sweat or perspiration
  • Unexplained anxiety
  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased heart rate

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Heart Attack Symptoms?

Call 911

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Norton Heart & Vascular Institute specialists treat more cardiovascular patients — about 100,000 every year — than any provider in Louisville and Southern Indiana.

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Heart attack signs in men and women can vary. According to the American Heart Association, chest pain or discomfort is the most common sign for men and women. However, women are more likely to experience shortness of breath, vomiting or nausea, and back or jaw pain.

What if you can’t tell?

If you aren’t sure, always seek medical attention. While some heart attacks are intense and very quick, many start slowly with mild pain or aches. It’s important that you listen to your body and think about what feels normal to you.

“If you belch or pass gas and the pain goes away, you could just be experiencing stomach pain or heartburn,” said Joseph Lash, M.D., cardiologist with Norton Heart and Vascular Institute. “If the pain persists and you have shortness of breath or nausea, it could be a heart-related issue.”

If you have any doubt, call 911.

“Acting quickly when you feel symptoms is extremely important,” Dr. Lash said. “There’s no need to be embarrassed if it’s just stomach pain. It’s better to get care than to wait until it’s too late.”

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