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The Physiology of Heartburn

Ann Intern Med. 1961;55(2):292-300. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-55-2-292
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Heartburn is a subjective complaint and, as a descriptive term, suffers from lack of specificity. It is frequently used to describe any form of anterior chest discomfort except the classic oppressive pain of angina pectoris; we have seen the word used to enumerate sharp subaxillary shooting pains and suprapubic aching. Our definition as applied to the subjects in this study is more limited: heartburn, in our opinion, is a painful burning sensation located retrosternally in the midline between the xiphoid process and the manubrium. Its duration is variable, but it always has a moving quality. It may radiate to the


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