Difference between Gas Pain and Heart Attack

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Medically Reviewed by Dr. Aman Priya Khanna
Written by Rajath R Prabhu, last updated on 26 November 2022| min read
Difference between Gas Pain and Heart Attack

Quick Summary

Gas pain and heart attack are two different conditions that can cause chest pain. Gas pain is usually caused by the accumulation of excess gas in the abdomen, while a heart attack is caused by a blockage in the arteries that supply blood to the heart.

There are several key differences between gas pain and a heart attack, including:

  • Gas pain is usually a dull, aching pain that is located in the upper abdomen. Heart attack pain is usually a sharp, stabbing pain that is located in the center of the chest.
  • Gas pain is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as bloating, belching, and flatulence. Heart attack pain is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as shortness of breath, nausea, and sweating.
  • Gas pain usually goes away on its own within a few hours. Heart attack pain is a medical emergency and requires immediate medical attention.

If you are experiencing chest pain, it is important to see a doctor to rule out a heart attack.

Ever had a hearty meal with your family but felt a sharp pain in the chest right after that? Yes, right? Everyone must have experienced pain in the chest at some point in their lives. It is very common and usually not serious. This generally develops due to the accumulation of excess gas in the abdomen. This might lead to gas pain along with some serious gas-related issues. 

However, we generally tend to ignore such stomach-related issues. But, one must be concerned about chest pain as chest pain may also develop due to cardiac issues such as heart attacks. However, numerous symptoms can tell the difference between gas pain and heart attack. This article will make you understand the difference between gas pain and heart attack.

What is Gas and Gas Pain?

Intestinal gas commonly referred to as gas, is made up of deodorised gases viz oxygen, hydrogen, methane, nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide, and carbon dioxide. These gases mix up with intestinal bacteria and release flatulence from the body. It also releases through belching. Gas is an everyday phenomenon. A healthy person can release up to 21 flatulence a day. 

However, this gas can often get stuck into the left side of the colon (tube-like part of the large intestine) and result in extreme pain in the chest, which is at times believed to be a heart attack. Although, it’s just a gas pain in reality. 

Gas pain can occur due to:

  1. Overeating 
  2. Food poisoning 
  3. Swallowing unwanted air
  4. Improper diet

Major symptoms of gas pain include:

  1. Belching: Passing gas through the mouth. While belching (or burping) is normal, it may be a symptom of gas pain if it happens frequently. 
  2. Flatulence: Passing gas through the anus. As mentioned earlier, farting 21 times a day is normal for a human being; but an increase in number might be a sign of gas pain or gas-related problems. 
  3. Abdominal Pain: Cramps or twisted feeling in the abdomen.
  4. Bloating: A sense of swelling or fullness in the abdomen.
  5. Distention: Enlargement of the abdomen.
  6. Indigestion
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What is Heart Attack?

A Heart Attack, or Myocardial Infarction, is a medical emergency which occurs when the heart muscle stops receiving oxygenated blood (blood rich in oxygen), due to the formation of a blood clot in the coronary artery (the artery that supplies oxygenated blood to the heart). Below is a detailed guide for the same.

How does a Heart Attack occur?

The heart muscle requires oxygen for the proper function of the muscles, which they receive through the blood flow from coronary arteries. However, these arteries might become narrow due to the accumulation of fat and cholesterol (plaque). Slowly as the plaque breaks, it results in the formation of a blood clot in the arteries. 

Due to blood clotting, blood (carrying oxygen) is prevented from entering the heart muscle. As a consequence, the heart muscle gets deprived of oxygen. This crisis is referred to as Ischemia. Ischemia may damage or death a part of the heart muscle, known as a heart attack. 

A few heart attack symptoms are

  1. Chest Pain: Discomfort, fullness, pressure, or pain in the left side or centre of the chest. This pain might last for a few minutes
  2. Increased heartbeat
  3. Heart Palpitation: Fast, pondering heart, feels like the heart is skipping a beat
  4. Perspiration: Cold sweat
  5. Fatigue and unexplained anxiety
  6. Feeling Woozy: Fainting
  7. Feeling nauseous or vomiting.
  8. Pain in the left arm or both arms, including the left shoulder
  9. Pain in jaw, neck, throat, back, and stomach
  10. Falling short of breath with or without chest stiffness

Difference between Gas pain and Heart

Differences based on Symptoms, Causes and Risk Factors

Parameters

Gas Pain

Heart Attack

Duration

40 minutes to 2 hours

20 to 30 minutes

Symptoms
  1. Belching
  2. Flatulence
  3. Abdominal pain
  4. Bloating
  5. Distention 
  6. Burning sensation
  7. Stabbing pain in chest
  8. Weight gain
  1. Fullness/ discomfort in chest 
  2. Cold sweat
  3. Heart palpitations
  4. Fast heart rate
  5. Fainting or lightheaded
  6. Nauseous
  7. Pain in arms and shoulders
  8. Jaw and mouth pain
Causes
  1. Food digestion
  2. Food poisoning and intolerance
  3. Swallowing excess air while chewing food
  1. Blockage of the blood vessel

Risk Factors

  1. Excess gas accumulation in the left side of colon
  2. Consumption of artificial sweeteners
  3. Distention
  4. Smoking
  5. Drinking 
  6. Consuming carbonated drinks
  1. High cholesterol
  2. Diet rich in fat
  3. Smoking and alcohol consumption
  4. High blood pressure 
  5. Overweight or obese
  6. Abuse of certain drugs
  7. Sedentary lifestyle

Difference between Gas pain and Heart attack based on diagnosis and treatment

Parameters

Gas Pain

Heart Attack 

Diagnosis 

  1. Medical history of the patient
  2. Dietary pattern
  3. Physical examination.
  4. Blood tests
  5. The breath test is done by hydrogen breath test
  6. Colon screening
  7. Gastrointestinal (GI) tract exam
  1. Medical history
  2. Physical examination
  3. Blood tests
  4. Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  5. Echocardiogram
  6. Angiogram
  7. Coronary angiography
  8. Chest X-ray
  9. Heart MRI
  10. Heart computed tomography (CT) scan
Treatment Dietary changes such as:
  1. Avoiding spicy food
  2. Avoiding caffeine intake
  3. Drinking plenty of water
  4. Consuming high-fibre food,
  5. Eliminate sugar substitutes
  6. Over-the-counter painkillers.
  1. Medications for breaking blood clots
  2. Blood thinning medications
  3. Coronary Angioplasty and stenting
  4. Coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG)
Complications

If gas pain is not treated in time, it might result in

  1. Chest pain 
  2. Acid reflux
  3. Cramping
  4. Bloating
  5. Disrupt mental health (increase stress)

If the pain caused due to a heart attack is not treated in time may result in life-threatening complications, such as

  1. Heart rupture
  2. Heart failure
  3. Cardiogenic shock

When to seek medical attention for gas pain and heart attack?

If the gas pain doesn’t go away even after undertaking natural remedies, and it only worsens, one should seek medical attention. A few intestinal gas symptoms indicating the necessity for medical attention include:

  1. Acid reflux
  2. Continuous burning sensation in the chest
  3. Fever
  4. Nausea and vomiting
  5. Belching (burping)
  6. Flatulence (farting)
  7. Diarrhoea

In case of a heart attack is a life-threatening medical condition. Therefore, it’s strictly recommended to seek medical care at the earliest if any heart attack symptoms are felt. A few of the major symptoms include:

  1. Increased heart rate
  2. Chest pain
  3. Heart palpitations
  4. Anxiety
  5. Cold sweat
  6. Fatigue
  7. Shortness of breath
  8. Pain in Jaw, mouth, arms, and shoulders 

Takeaway

There is always confusion among people regarding gas pain in the chest versus heart attack. Nonetheless, both conditions cause pain in the chest. However, they vary on several factors and also lead to complications if not treated on time.

If you are unsure whether you are suffering gas pain in your chest or chest pain due to a heart attack, please seek medical help as soon as possible. You can also seek expert advice from the experienced doctors of HexaHealth, and that too, free of cost. Contact the experts of HexaHealth Today! 

Frequently Asked Questions

If the gas gets stuck into the left side of the colon, it can cause severe pain in the chest, which can be misunderstood as a heart attack. But there’s no need to worry about it if you’re sure it’s only a gas pain. However, you must seek medical advice if unsure about your pain, as many people cannot differentiate between gas pain and heart attack.

In gastric pain, you might experience burning in the chest. This burning sensation begins in the upper stomach and follows up to the chest. Gastric pain occurs due to acid reflux in the body. While in heart pain, you might feel pressure or fullness in the centre or left side of the chest. Heart pain occurs when a part of your heart muscle cannot receive oxygen and dies. This is the difference between gas pain and heart attack. 

Four signs of an impending heart attack include

  1. Pressure and fullness in the centre or left side of the chest.
  2. Pain in the arms, shoulders, neck, jaw, back, teeth, or stomach. 
  3. Cold sweat.
  4. Heart palpitations and increased heart rate.

If you experience heart palpitations, cold sweat, fast heart rate, and shoulder and arm pain, you might have a heart attack. You should call the ambulance as soon as possible.

Gas pain is located in the upper stomach and on the left side of the colon, due to which extreme chest pain can occur. 

If you experience belching, bloating, or burning sensation, it’s probably indigestion and gastric problems. But if you’re going through heart palpitation, discomfort in the left side or centre of the chest, cold sweat, shortness of breath, pain in the jaw, neck, shoulder, arm, or stomach, unexplained anxiety, or fast heartbeat, it might be a heart attack. These are the main difference between gas pain and heart attack. 

In a mini heart attack, you might face symptoms such as pain in the jaw, neck, arms, and shoulders, discomfort in the left side of the chest, fullness in the chest, faintness, fatigue, cold sweat, and anxiety. 

Gas pain might last for a few hours. It can go on its own. You can use certain home remedies to cure it. However, if you still feel discomfort, you should seek medical attention.

Chest pain from gas can go away within around 40 minutes after you use a home remedy such as ginger or garlic. If the pain continues for two hours or more, you must go to a hospital to get it checked. 

Gas pain appears as a stabbing ache in the upper abdomen and chest and is usually not that painful. However, sometimes it can be so painful that it can be misunderstood as a heart attack. 

You can eliminate painful gas with natural remedies, such as ginger and garlic. You can also use over-the-counter medicines to relieve your pain.

Heart pain symptoms include

  1. Difficulty breathing
  2. Heart palpitations
  3. Cold sweat
  4. Fullness or discomfort in the left side or centre of the chest
  5. Pain in the jaw, back, arms, and shoulders

Heart attacks can last as long as 20 to 30 minutes. Despite their small tenure, the pain is intense. You must seek medical emergency immediately if you experience heart attack symptoms. 

Updated on : 26 November 2022

Reviewer

Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

MBBS, DNB General Surgery, Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery, FIAGES

12 Years Experience

Dr Aman Priya Khanna is a well-known General Surgeon, Proctologist and Bariatric Surgeon currently associated with HealthFort Clinic, Health First Multispecialty Clinic in Delhi. He has 12 years of experience in General Surgery and worke...View More

Author

Rajath R Prabhu

Rajath R Prabhu

MSc. Clinical Research I PG Diploma in Public Health Services Management

3 Years Experience

His work in medical content writing and proofreading is noteworthy. He has also contributed immensely to public health research and has authored four scientific manuscripts in international journals. He was assoc...View More

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