"Heartburn" is a burning sensation that is felt behind the sternum (breastbone). It is the classic symptom of gastro-oesophageal reflux. It is not caused by the heart, as the name suggests, but may mimic cardiac angina. It is important that your GP takes a careful history to determine the cause of your chest pain, and refers you appropriately, if required.

Other characteristics of heartburn include:

  • Usually occurs after eating
  • May be worsened in a recumbent position
  • May be associated with other symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux, such as regurgitation, acidic taste in the mouth, and discomfort when swallowing.
  • It is not associated with exercise.

However, there are conditions which may mimic heartburn but are not alleviated by the usual therapy for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. Heartburn that does not respond to conventional therapies should be investigated further.