Heartburn is a burning sensation in your chest caused by acid in your stomach leaking back into your oesophagus (gullet). It is not related to your heart.

Heartburn, or acid reflux, is also known as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) or reflux disease. It’s where the valve (or sphincter) between the bottom of the oesophagus and the top of the stomach prevents acid from leaking back into your oesophagus. The acid irritates sensitive lining of the oesophagus causing the burning sensation known as heartburn.

Occasional heartburn is very common. The frequency of symptoms varies widely between people, as does the severity of the symptoms. For some patients it’s just an occasional nuisance, for others it can significantly affect their long-term quality of life. Heartburn affects people more as they get older, and it is much more common in people who are overweight, who overeat or who smoke. It is also commonly experienced during pregnancy.

The condition can often be treated with self-help measures, lifestyle changes or medication, but sometimes surgery is required to correct the cause of the problem.