A burning feeling in the chest may be heartburn, which is caused by acid reflux. In some cases, however, that burning sensation is actually a sign of a heart attack.

What feels like acid reflux could be heart disease.


A burning feeling behind the breastbone may be heartburn, a gastrointestinal symptom that occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. In a significant number of cases, however, that burning sensation is actually a sign that the heart isn’t receiving adequate blood flow. Unfortunately, many people end up having heart attacks because they mistakenly assumed their chest discomfort was heartburn or indigestion.

If you have a burning sensation in your chest that doesn’t seem to fit the typical pattern of heartburn, or if the sensation is accompanied by other symptoms, such as sweating or difficulty breathing, seek immediate medical care.

Causes & Risk Factors

Heartburn typically occurs when the sphincter at the entrance to the stomach allows some of the stomach’s acidic contents to back up into the esophagus. But a blocked coronary artery can also cause a burning sensation in the chest, which may be mistaken for heartburn.

Treatment & Prevention

The first step in treating chest discomfort is understanding exactly what’s causing it. If the doctors at Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates determine that the cause is related to your heart, they will create a treatment plan to address the underlying problem and prevent long-term damage to your cardiovascular system. If the source of your discomfort is determined to be gastrointestinal, you will be referred to a trusted gastroenterologist.