Both gas and a heart attack can cause chest pain that feels like pressure or tightness. However, additional symptoms, such as pain in other areas of the body, shortness of breath, and dizziness, usually indicate a heart attack.

Gas pain in the chest can occur due to digestive issues or a high amount of swallowed air, a condition doctors call aerophagia.

Often, dietary changes can help relieve the pain gas causes. However, chest pain from gas may sometimes indicate a more serious condition requiring medical attention.

In this article, we explore the similarities and differences between gas pain and pain from a heart attack, including the symptoms and treatments of both conditions.

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Despite what many people believe, not all chest pain relates to cardiac issues. In fact, according to a 2015 research article, up to 70% of chest pain may be classified as noncardiac chest pain.

Gas that forms inside the stomach or the left upper section of the colon can feel very similar to the pain that heart issues, including heart attacks, cause.

Symptoms that may indicate chest pain is from a heart attack include:

  • pain that feels like a strong pressure on the chest
  • nausea
  • discomfort or pain in other areas of the upper body, such as:
    • jaw
    • neck
    • back
    • shoulders
    • arms
  • shortness of breath
  • profuse sweating
  • a feeling of wooziness or lightheadedness

Anyone experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack should call 911 and seek emergency medical attention.

Common symptoms of gas in the digestive tract include:

  • belching
  • bloating
  • distention, which is when the stomach protrudes or hangs down
  • flatulence, or passing gas

Symptoms of a heart attack can include:

  • lightheadedness or dizziness
  • sweating
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • overwhelming anxiety
  • coughing or wheezing
  • chest pain that feels like heaviness, tightness, or squeezing across the chest
  • pain that spreads to other parts of the body and radiates to the arms (usually the left arm), jaw, neck, back, or abdomen

Chest pain from a heart attack is often severe. However, some people may feel only mild pain, similar to that of indigestion.

Although the most common heart attack symptom is chest pain, heart attack symptoms can vary from one person to another.

Some people may experience other heart attack symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, or pain in the back of the jaw or near the ears, without experiencing any actual chest pain.

Read more about what happens during a heart attack.

Treatment for gas pain in the chest often begins at home.

The following home remedies may help someone find relief from the discomfort and pain of gas in the chest:

  • drinking warm liquids
  • consuming ginger
  • avoiding possible food triggers, such as dairy, gluten, or carbonated drinks
  • physical activity to try to move and displace the gas buildup

Medications

Certain medications can treat gas pain in the chest. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol), can help provide relief from certain indigestion symptoms.

Chronic gastrointestinal conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ulcerative colitis (UC), or Crohn’s disease, may require prescription medication.

However, in each case, treatment depends on the individual.

A heart attack requires immediate emergency care. It can be fatal.

Many people now survive heart attacks due to improvements in effective treatment.

To maximize the chances of survival, do not delay treatment and act immediately. The first thing a person should do is call 911 right away.

Is it a heart attack?

Heart attacks occur when there is a lack of blood supply to the heart. Symptoms include:

  • chest pain, pressure, or tightness
  • pain that may spread to arms, neck, jaw, or back
  • nausea and vomiting
  • sweaty or clammy skin
  • heartburn or indigestion
  • shortness of breath
  • coughing or wheezing
  • lightheadedness or dizziness
  • anxiety that can feel similar to a panic attack

If someone has these symptoms:

  1. Dial 911 or the number of the nearest emergency department.
  2. Stay with them until the emergency services arrive.

If a person stops breathing before emergency services arrive, perform manual chest compressions:

  1. Lock fingers together and place the base of hands in the center of the chest.
  2. Position shoulders over hands and lock elbows.
  3. Press hard and fast, at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute, to a depth of 2 inches.
  4. Continue these movements until the person starts to breathe or move.
  5. If needed, swap over with someone else without pausing compressions.

Use an automated external defibrillator (AED) available in many public places:

  1. An AED provides a shock that may restart the heart.
  2. Follow the instructions on the defibrillator or listen to the guided instructions.
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Medical treatment

After admission to the hospital, a person receives tests to determine the most appropriate treatment. Heart attack treatments may include:

The medical team at the hospital also helps the person devise a treatment plan to prevent future heart attacks.

The following are some questions people frequently ask about heart attacks and gas pain.

What are the 4 signs of an impending heart attack?

The four main signs of an impending heart attack are:

  • chest pain that feels like pressure or squeezing
  • difficulty breathing and dizziness
  • nausea and cold sweats
  • pain that radiates to other areas of the body

Can gas pains feel like a heart attack?

Yes, a buildup of gas can sometimes travel upward into the chest and create pain that feels similar to a heart attack.

How do I know if my chest pain is gas?

Many people describe pain in the chest from gas as a tightness in the chest area with a slight burning or stabbing sensation. The pain may also radiate to the abdomen.

Gas pain in the chest can sometimes feel similar to the chest part of a heart attack. In fact, many people mistake gas chest pain for a cardiac issue due to the overlapping symptoms.

However, heart attacks involve symptoms that gas does not cause, such as pain radiating to other areas of the body, including the back, neck, arms, or jaw.

A heart attack is a medical emergency. Anyone who thinks they or someone else may be having a heart attack needs to call 911 and seek urgent medical care.