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Chest Pain Plus Nausea: What Does it Mean?

Chest Pain Plus Nausea: What Does it Mean?

When chest pain and nausea occur together, they’re usually signs of a gastrointestinal or heart condition. If they’re related to your heart, they’re a red alert indicating a possible heart attack. 

In this blog, Kishore K. Arcot, MD, FACC, FSCAI, FSVM, RPVI, at the Memphis Vein Center explains the conditions that cause chest pain and nausea and offers some tips on how to recognize a heart problem.

Most importantly, don’t second-guess chest pain and put off seeking medical care because nausea suggests it’s a gastrointestinal problem. Nausea can also occur during a heart attack, and you should always seek help for symptoms that could be related to your heart. 

Gastrointestinal causes of chest pain and nausea

The gastrointestinal conditions that can cause nausea and chest pain include:


Esophagitis, an inflamed esophagus, is defined by symptoms such as nausea, chest pain, and difficulty swallowing.


Gastritis occurs when the stomach lining is inflamed, often due to an infection. In addition to nausea, gastritis causes stomach pain and a burning ache in your upper abdomen that can mimic chest pain.


Acute pancreatitis (an inflamed pancreas) causes nausea and sudden severe pain around the top of your stomach. As the pain increases, it can travel into your back and shoulder blades and feel like heart-related pain.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

GERD is well-known for causing severe chest pain (heartburn). Though nausea isn’t a common symptom, the burping, coughing, and burning that GERD causes can result in nausea and vomiting.

Gallbladder disease

Gallbladder disease may or may not cause nausea, but it’s known for sharp pain. The pain originates in your upper right abdomen, where it’s often so severe it’s mistaken for a heart attack. 


Gastroparesis occurs when food moves through your stomach too slowly. Slow stomach emptying leads to digestive symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and abdominal bloating, with or without upper abdominal pain. If you have stomach pain, it may radiate upward and feel like chest pain.

Heart-related chest pain and nausea

Chest pain is the most common sign of a heart attack in men and women. Other symptoms people frequently experience include shortness of breath, sweating, and dizziness.

One of the most important signs of a heart attack is chest pain that lasts longer than a few minutes and gets progressively worse. By comparison, many gastrointestinal conditions (but not all) improve over time, and they typically respond to antacids, acid blockers, or other medications. 

Nausea can also occur during a heart attack. Women are more likely to experience this symptom than men.

In addition to nausea, your chest pain may be accompanied by other symptoms you don’t expect, including:

One thing is certain: When chest pain occurs with other symptoms (including nausea), there’s a significant chance it’s due to a heart attack. That’s why you should always seek immediate medical attention for chest pain and nausea.

Call 911 for emergency medical attention if you have sudden, severe, and persistent chest pain. 

If you have any questions about chest pain and nausea, or if you want to schedule a heart assessment, call us at Memphis Vein Center in Memphis, Tennessee, or request an appointment online today.

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