Here is a comparison acid reflux symptoms to those of angina chest pain.

It’s no secret that a person with chest pain from angina can be misdiagnosed as having acid reflux or some other digestive issue.

This happened to my mother who, two days after the misdiagnosis, underwent quintuple bypass surgery after the correct diagnosis was made.

“Chest pain from reflux may be similar to angina pain, so if there’s any chance of cardiac disease, the patient should first consult a cardiologist (or internist) to rule out cardiac disease before embarking on any GI workup, especially if the patient is middle aged or older and hasn’t already had a cardiac evaluation,” says Jonathan Zinberg, MD, chief of gastroenterology at South Nassau Communities Hospital, Oceanside, NY.

“However, reflux pain is typically burning, though may be sharp, often after eating, especially after reclining or overnight.  It usually lasts for a prolonged time (20 minutes to a few hours), but improves after an antacid or acid reducing agent.”

Angina Chest Pain

Dr. Zinberg continues, “Angina is typically a heavy sensation, but may be sharp or even burning, usually after activity, but could be after eating, usually is not at rest or reclining or in the middle of the night, but rarely could be so.”

My mother was one of those rare cases. She was awakened at 5 a.m. by chest pain (angina).

“It may be brief and improve with rest,” says Dr. Zinberg. 

“If prolonged and not improved with an antacid, seek medical attention.”

Unstable Angina

Angina can occur while at rest, and this type is called unstable angina. “Unstable angina is dangerous and scary,” says Dr. Zinberg.

“It usually occurs in someone who already has a history of coronary disease and angina, and with worsening it may occur even at rest.”

Duration of Chest Pain 

“In a setting where there is a reason to be concerned about cardiac disease, if the pain lasts longer than 15 or 20 minutes, medical attention should be sought. 

“Known angina patients usually have nitroglycerine to take for acute angina symptoms.

“Otherwise, it’s worth taking an antacid or H2 receptor antagonist (like ranitidine or famotidine) to see if the heartburn will disappear.  If it doesn’t, speak to a doctor.”

Jonathan Zinberg, MD

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  


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