Bad news for those who’re trying to convince themselves that their pounding heartbeat is caused by GERD and GERD alone:
It very most probably isn’t.
Nobody wants to think that maybe their pounding heart is being generated by a cardiac disease of some sort.
So they wonder what other explanation there can be – one that’s not as frightening as the possibility that something is wrong with their heart.
Sometimes GERD or acid reflux will come to mind — especially if you aren’t having an anxiety attack (notorious for causing a heart that pounds).
“A pounding heartbeat is usually associated with anxiety and stress,” says Hugh Mai, MD, Director of Endoscopic Ultrasonography and Bariatric Endoscopy, Gastroenterology Division, Sinai Hospital of Baltimore and LifeBridge Health.
“Certain chemicals can cause a pounding heartbeat such as too much caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.
“These can also cause acid reflux. It is rarely reported that acid reflux alone directly causes a pounding heartbeat.”
What if your heart pounds spontaneously, with no apparent trigger such as acute anxiety or drinking?
It could be a heart issue – an arrhythmia. Don’t try to convince yourself that it’s a direct consequence of stomach acid splashing up into your esophagus.
There is no anatomical or chemical connection between this and the electrical impulses that drive your heartbeat.
However, GERD or acid reflux commonly causes chest pain or some kind of discomfort in the chest and/or upper abdomen.
But this chest pain is not the least bit related to the heart, even though it may seem that way due to its location and severity of discomfort.
If your heart keeps pounding away, the first doctor you should see is a cardiologist. Do not self-diagnose and dismiss it as GERD.
There are several kinds of arrhythmias that patients have described as making their heart “pound” or “thump.” You may end up having both GERD and an abnormal heart rhythm. But acid reflux does not directly affect the heart’s beating.
Dr. Mai is well-versed in the endoscopic treatment of GERD. LifeBridge Health provides the Baltimore community and beyond with a wide array of choices in health care services.
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.