Symptoms of False Heart Attack: Conditions That Mimic Heart Attack Symptoms

One of the most dangerous health situations that a person can come across is a heart attack which proves fatal in several cases and can also cause permanent damage. However, sometimes, a heart attack can be a false one and you may not know what to do in such a situation. Know the symptoms of a false heart attack and what to do when such a thing occurs.

The major cause of a heart attack is the death of the muscles of the heart when they are unable to get sufficient oxygen and blood supply. It is the result of a coronary artery blockage as these arteries are the major vessel which provides the heart muscles with blood. If there is any disruption in the flow of blood to these muscles, it can result in instant death of the person. The vessels of the coronary artery either get blocked or become narrow in size if fatty plaques get deposited on the inner walls of the vessels.

One of the major symptoms of a heart attack is pain in the chest. Since such a symptom also occurs in many other diseases and conditions, some people neglect the issue and do not seek medical attention which can sometimes prove fatal for them.

Symptoms of False Heart Attack

Symptoms of False Heart Attack: Conditions That Mimic Heart Attack Symptoms

At times, a false heart attack can also confuse you and you may not know whether the attack is real or false. Knowing the symptoms of a false heart attack will help you distinguish the conditions that mimic heart attack symptoms:

  • Pain in the Chest – This is one of the most common symptoms of a heart attack. It indicates that a heart attack is about to take place and warns the body about the upcoming trouble. However, pain in the chest can also occur during a false heart attack as the pain may be due to several other reasons and conditions such as pleural effusion, pneumonia etc. A common symptom of a false heart attack can also be chest pain, however, the associated symptoms may be different. If chest pain is accompanied by chills, fever and aggravation of pain with coughing thereby assuring that the pain is not due to a heart attack. Chest pain also occur when the rib cartilage gets inflamed or the patient suffers from costochondritis; both of which need to be treated separately. Chest pain can also be a muscular pain in the chest, making it a symptom of a false heart attack. If the pericardium, the heart’s outer covering, gets inflamed it results in pericarditis which is a condition that requires immediate medical attention or can prove dangerous as time passes by.
  • Heartburn – A common symptom of a false heart attack is heartburn. It is the burning sensation which is felt under the breastbone area or the epigastric region and generally occurs when the patient suffers from a reflux acid disease. In such a disease the acid in the stomach goes up into the lower esophagus as the esophageal valve becomes weak. The heartburn increases when the patient bends down or lies down on the bed after eating after a spicy meal and this helps assure that the symptom is not caused due to a heart attack.
  • Stomach Pain – Another symptom of a false heart attack is stomach pain. Stomach pain is generally caused due to indigestion, dyspepsia or stomach uneasiness which may be accompanied with breathlessness, excessive sweating and vomiting.
  • Panic Attacks or Extreme Stress – If you are undergoing a panic attack or are under extreme stress, it may act as a symptom of a false heart attack. As such an attack occurs along with breathlessness, constant sweating, fast heartbeats and palpitation thereby confusing and mimicking the symptoms of a real heart attack. However, it is usually accompanied with prolonged physical or mental stress, causing pain in the chest and creating a false heart attack.
  • Gall Bladder Attack – A gall bladder attack or inflammation in the gall bladder can radiate immense pain which may pass on to the chest and act as a symptom of a false attack. As the pain caused due to a gall bladder often passes to the neck, arms and back region and is quite similar to a heart attack, one must understand the symptoms quite carefully. If the attack is a gall bladder one then you will also experience nausea and vomiting, especially if you have just eaten a heavy meal. Also the gall bladder related pain is more on the right side, particularly radiating from the right upper abdomen to right shoulder and chest area.

What to do If You Experience False Heart Attack Symptoms?

It is a common practice to seek immediate medical attention if you have chest pain but only 60 percent of such cases are actually diagnosed with a real heart attack. In almost 40 percent cases, the symptoms experienced are the symptoms of a false heart attack and may occur due to other conditions such as gallbladder issues, pneumonia or muscle spasm in the chest.

The best thing to do is to determine whether you are suffering from real or false heart attack symptoms is to get an ECG or echo-cardiogram test done. The associated symptoms too give an idea of the condition but an ECG can exactly differentiate between a false heart attack and a real one.

However, it is always better to get diagnosed and seek medical help if you experience any kind of symptoms which suggest a heart attack. Waiting too long to check whether the symptoms are that of a real heart attack or false one can be life threatening in some cases.


Once you know what the symptoms of a false heart attack are, you will be able to judge quite well whether you are experiencing a real or false heart attack. However, there is no harm in seeking immediate medical help and confirming your doubt at the earliest by getting an ECG test done. Timely medical advice can help you get the right treatment and can help to prevent recurrence in future.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 1, 2017

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