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How Bad Does A Heart Attack Hurt

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What Does Chest Pain From a Heart Attack Feel Like?

Each year about 805,000 Americans have a heart attack, and about 655,000 die of heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means heart disease is responsible for one in every four deaths, making it the leading cause of death for both men and women.

Remember, if you think youre having a heart attack:

  • Chew one adult-strength aspirin to help keep your blood from clotting.
  • Stay on the phone with the emergency operator as you wait for an ambulance. Do not try to drive yourself to the hospital.

A heart attack can be a scary experience. But remember that were here for you, and comprehensive heart care and recovery options are never far away.

Types Of Heart Attacks

The scientific term for a heart attack is myocardial infarction or MI for short. There are different kinds of heart attacks, and the severity, diagnosis and treatment for each may be different.

What all heart attacks have in common is that something is preventing oxygen-containing, nutrient-rich blood from getting to the heart muscle. The amount of damage to the heart will depend on the type of heart attack, the severity of blockage and the time it took to get treated.

Heres what you need to know about the types of heart attacks:

What Are The Risk Factors For Heart Attack

Several health conditions, your lifestyle, and your age and family history can increase your risk for heart disease and heart attack. These are called risk factors. About half of all Americans have at least one of the three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking.2

Some risk factors cannot be controlled, such as your age or family history. But you can take steps to lower your risk by changing the factors you can control.

Learn more about risk factors for heart disease and heart attack.

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Symptoms You Never Suspected

So, what does a heart attack really feel like?According to Dr. Menon, patients most often report:

  • Heartburn-like chest pain. Its quite common for heart attacks to feel like acid reflux.
  • Shortness of breath. Some heart attacks dont cause pain at all. These silent heart attacks are most common in people with diabetes, older adults and those who have had bypass surgery.
  • Profound fatigue. This symptom is most common in elderly patients and can be misdiagnosed as a flu-like illness.
  • Nausea and sweating. While these symptoms can come with heavy chest pain, they also can occur by themselves, especially in women. These symptoms commonly accompany heart attacks to the inferior wall of the heart.

What A Heart Attack Doesnt Feel Like

Chest Pain: A Dangerous Sign of Heart Attack

Not all chest pain is a heart attack symptom. Pain isunlikely to be heart-related when it:

  • Is momentary,lasting only for a few seconds.
  • Feels like apricking sensation.
  • Is in a small,well-localized area of your chest.
  • Can bereproduced when you press on your chest or move your arm.
  • Radiates belowyour abdomen and into your legs.

The best way to guard yourself from a heart attack is to eat a healthy diet, do regular aerobic activity, avoid smoking, manage diabetes if you have it, have regular checkups with your primary care provider, and know and control your cholesterol levels, says Dr. Menon.

If you notice a sudden changein your ability to perform physical activity, get to a doctor right away.

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Why Choose The Hospitals Of Providence For Your Early Heart Attack Care

The Hospitals of Providence has EHAC teams who genuinely care about you and your loved ones. Our hospitals are located across El Paso to provide accessible care to the communities in this city and nearby areas. At the same time, we have received multiple recognitions for the compassionate care and patient-centered cardiovascular services we offer.

Some of the accreditations and recognitions we received in recent years are as follows:

For Sierra Campus

  • Chest Pain Reaccreditation by the Society of Cardiovascular Care
  • ACC HeartCARE Center Designation by the American College of Cardiology
  • Grade A rating for patient safety in the Leapfrog Groups Fall 2019 Safety Score

Recognizing A Heart Attack

  • 1Evaluate the quality of your pain.XResearch source Pain that relates to a heart attack most often feels like a pressure, or squeezing, sensation. It can range from mildly painful, or not painful at all , to full pain that people would rank a 10 out of 10 in intensity. The pain is often in the chest area, and may radiate down your left arm, to your jaw, or to your back.
  • 2Look for non pain-related symptoms.XResearch source In addition to pain in your arm, jaw, neck, and back, there are other symptoms you may see during a cardiac episode, as well. These include:XTrustworthy SourceAmerican Heart AssociationLeading nonprofit that funds medical research and public educationGo to source
  • Nausea
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    Heart Attack Testing: Faq

    Q: Why do I have to submit to a bunch of tests?A: Tests help the doctor determine if a heart attack occurred, how much your heart was damaged and what degree of coronary artery disease you might have. The tests screen your heart and help the doctor determine what treatment and lifestyle changes will keep your heart healthy and prevent serious future medical events.

    Q: Whats the difference between invasive and non-invasive tests?A: Non-invasive cardiac tests measure your hearts activity through external imaging and electrocardiography. Invasive tests include drawing and testing samples of your blood, and inserting and threading a thin hollow tube called a catheter into a blood vessel to get an inside view.

    Q: How can I learn more about the tests that may be performed?A: These diagnostic tests and procedures can reveal if you had a heart attack, how much damage was done and what degree of coronary artery disease you have.

    Q: What types of treatment will I get after the hospital diagnoses my heart attack?A: If youve had a heart attack, you may have already had undergone certain procedures to help you survive your heart attack. Those same procedures can help to diagnose your condition. Such procedures include:

    Heart Attack Warning Signs Arm Pain

    Does Anger Hurt Your Heart?

    This article dwells on heart attack warning signs – arm pain. We all know that arm pain can be caused by injury, trauma, etc. however, do we know arm pain is also an indicator of heart attack? Read more to find out…

    This article dwells on heart attack warning signs arm pain. We all know that arm pain can be caused by injury, trauma, etc. however, do we know arm pain is also an indicator of heart attack? Read more to find out

    Heart attack is a grave condition befalling people, in which the ever-beating heart receives less oxygenated blood from the lungs. In medical terms, this condition is referred to as myocardial infarction and the reason behind this inadequate supply of oxygenated blood can be blocked or clogged coronary arteries .

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    Take Care Of Yourself

    Heart disease is preventable. Here are Goldbergs top tips:

    • Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to learn your personal risk for heart disease.
    • Quit smoking. Did you know that just one year after you quit, youll cut your risk of coronary heart disease by 50 percent?
    • Start an exercise program. Just walking 30 minutes a day can lower your risk for heart attack and stroke.
    • Modify your familys diet if needed. Check out these healthy cooking tips. Youll learn smart substitutions, healthy snacking ideas and better prep methods. For example, with poultry, use the leaner light meat instead of the fattier dark meat , and be sure to remove the skin.

    Learn more:

    Tips To Determine If The Left Arm Pain Is Heart Related

    Your left arm can hurt for a number of reasons including overstrain or even injury, so how can you tell when it is related to the heart? The below tips will help you distinguish regular left arm pain and heart-related left arm pain.

    Evaluate the quality of your pain: Pain will feel like pressure or squeezing in the chest, and vary in intensity. If this pain then moves to the left arm, that indicates it is a heart-related left arm pain.

    Look for non-pain-related symptoms: Left arm pain that exists on its own is rarely caused by the heart. Looking for other non-pain-related symptoms can help you better determine if you are about to have a heart attack. These symptoms include nausea, lightheadedness or dizziness, cold sweating, and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. If these non-pain symptoms coexist with your pain, you need to contact a doctor immediately.

    Evaluating your pain: When evaluating your pain, its important to first note the duration of the pain. If the pain only lasts for a few seconds, it is quite unlikely that it is caused by the heart. If pain is persistent, lasting days or weeks, that is also an unlikely indicator of heart-related pain. Pain related to a heart attack will last for a few minutes or hours, and it may also reoccur in short intervals. Lastly, if pain in the left arm occurs only when you use the arm for physical activity, it is due to muscle issues, not heart.

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    Discomfort That Lessens With Exercise

    If a sharp pain strikes your chest but improves as you move around a bit well, you may be looking at a case of heartburn or some other gastrointestinal issue.

    An estimated 15 million Americans a day experience heartburn, which brings an uncomfortable burning feeling in your chest and a sour feeling in your throat. An over-the-counter antacid can help bring some relief.

    Ignoring Heart Attack Symptoms Can Be A Fatal Mistake

    What Does It Feel Like When You are Having a Heart Attack?

    A heart attack happens every 34 seconds in America, affecting more than one million people each year. Heart attacks are the leading cause of death for both men and women in America.

    If heart attacks really happened as they are portrayed in the movies the sudden, intense chest pain that brings you to your knees it would be easier to know when to go to the hospital. In reality, the pain and discomfort caused by a heart attack can be more subtle, especially for women. If youre having a heart attack, prompt medical attention may help protect your heart muscle from permanent damage, and perhaps save your life.

    A heart attack occurs when the blood that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is blocked, often by a blood clot. A less common cause of a heart attack is a coronary artery spasm that restricts blood flow. Without oxygen, heart muscle cells begin to break down. A heart attack can cause permanent damage to the heart, impairing its pumping ability. However, survival rates are favorable for those who seek immediate medical attention.

    A heart attack may be the first sign of coronary artery disease which can be caused by plaque build-up. CAD narrows or blocks the arteries and increases the likelihood of developing blood clots. In addition to heart attacks, CAD can lead to other medical problems including angina, which causes chest pain and discomfort, or arrhythmia which is an irregular heartbeat. Over time angina can weaken the heart muscle and cause heart failure.

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    Heart Attack Warning Signs And Symptoms: Chest Head Jaw And Tooth Pain

    Chest discomfort, manifest as pain, fullness, and/or squeezing sensation of the chest

    Chest pain is the hallmark symptom of a heart attack, although it can take many different forms. In other cases, chest pain may not occur at all. The characteristic chest pain of a heart attack has been described as a sense of pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain that starts in the center of the chest. The pain or discomfort typically lasts more than a few minutes, or it may go away and then return. It can spread down the arms, to the back, or to the head and neck. Both women and men report chest pain as a primary symptom of heart attack, but women more often than men are likely to have some of the other symptoms, such as nausea, jaw pain, or shortness of breath, that are described below.

    Jaw pain, toothache, headache

    The pain of a heart attack can spread down both arms, to the jaw or head, or to the back. Some people report tooth pain or headache as a symptom of a heart attack. It is possible to have these types of pain without chest pain during a heart attack.

    Shortness of breath

    Feeling short of breath or like you are gasping for air is a common symptom of a heart attack. Shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing, is medically known as dyspnea. Shortness of breath may occur before or during the chest pain of a heart attack, and in some cases, it may be associated with other heart attack symptoms without any chest pain.

    Chest Pain: How A Doctor Decides It Could Be A Heart Attack

    Posted October 26, 2015

    Patients with chest pain come to my clinic with a nervous expression and a million-dollar question, “Doctor, is it my heart?”

    Such concern is valid. But understanding how medical providers think about chest pain may allay some fear.

    If you come to a clinic with chest pain, your provider will have questions about the major factors for heart disease. I will ask if you:

    • smoke
    • have diabetes
    • assess your age and gender
    • check to see if you have a family history of heart disease.

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    Angina And Heart Attacks

    Angina is a syndrome caused by the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart becoming restricted.

    People with angina can experience similar symptoms to a heart attack, but they usually happen during exercise and pass within a few minutes.

    However, occasionally, people with angina can have a heart attack. It’s important to recognise the difference between the symptoms of angina and those of a heart attack. The best way to do this is to remember that the symptoms of angina can be controlled with medicine, but symptoms of a heart attack cannot.

    If you have angina, you may have been prescribed medicine that improves your symptoms within 5 minutes. If the first dose does not work, a second dose can be taken after 5 minutes, and a third dose after a further 5 minutes.

    If the pain persists, despite taking 3 doses of glyceryl trinitrate over 15 minutes, call 999 and ask for an ambulance.

    Page last reviewed: 28 November 2019 Next review due: 28 November 2022

    Let’s Win This Together

    Heart Attacks

    Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. Support the innovative research, education and prevention services that protect the women we love.

    Weve all seen the movie scenes where a man gasps, clutches his chest and falls to the ground. In reality, a heart attack victim could easily be a woman, and the scene may not be that dramatic.

    Although men and women can experience chest pressure that feels like an elephant sitting across the chest, women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure, said Nieca Goldberg, M.D., medical director for the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYUs Langone Medical Center and an American Heart Association volunteer. Instead they may experience shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, upper back pressure or extreme fatigue.

    Even when the signs are subtle, the consequences can be deadly, especially if the victim doesnt get help right away.

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    What Is The Link

    These two distinct heart conditions are linked. Sudden cardiac arrest can occur after a heart attack, or during recovery. Heart attacks increase the risk for sudden cardiac arrest. Most heart attacks do not lead to sudden cardiac arrest. But when sudden cardiac arrest occurs, heart attack is a common cause. Other heart conditions may also disrupt the hearts rhythm and lead to sudden cardiac arrest. These include a thickened heart muscle , heart failure, arrhythmias, particularly ventricular fibrillation, and long Q-T syndrome.

    Fast action can save lives. Find out what to do if someone experiences a heart attack or cardiac arrest.

    Upper Body Pain Or Discomfort

    While many people typically assume that heart attack pain is concentrated around their chest and left arm, pain can affect different parts of the upper body.

    Many women who have suffered a heart attack have experienced back, neck or jaw pain that began gradually or suddenly and was strong enough to wake them up from sleep. Unexplained pain should be reported to your doctor immediately.

    Arm pain can also be a sign of a heart attack. This can affect either one or both arms.

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    Silent Heart Attack Symptoms

    Sometimes a heart attack doesnt cause obvious symptoms. This is known as a silent heart attack.

    Still, a silent heart attack may offer some warning signs, even if theyre brief and mild. These typically include variations on classic heart attack symptoms, such as:

    • Chest discomfort that lasts a few minutes, or comes and goes
    • Discomfort in your neck, jaw, arms, back, or stomach
    • Shortness of breath

    Silent heart attacks are more common in women than in men.

    Symptoms That Should Accompany Left Arm Pain

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    Chest pain: Chest pain is the most commonly recognized symptom indicating that there is something wrong with the heart. But for some patients, chest pain does not occur as a symptom of a heart attack. You may experience pressure, tightness, or pain originating in the center of the chest spreading down the arm, to the back, or to the neck and jaw .

    Unusual fatigue: We all get tired from time to time, but if fatigue is new, sudden, or dramatic, it could be a sign of a heart attack. This includes suddenly feeling worn out after your typical exercise routine, feeling fatigued even without physical exertion or after simple activities like making the bed, and experiencing sleep problems even though you feel exceptionally tired.

    Sweating and/or shortness of breath: If you experience sudden sweating or shortness of breath without physical activity, breathlessness that worsens without activity, shortness of breath that worsens when lying down and improving when getting up, stress sweat with no apparent stress, or sweating or shortness of breath that is accompanied by the other symptoms listed here, then these are signs of a heart attack.

    Neck, jaw, and head ache: As mentioned, chest pains can move to affect the neck or jaw, but pain in the jaw or neck can occur without the presence of chest pain during a heart attack.

    Upper back pain: Pain from the chest may radiate to the upper back and can be experienced in-between the shoulder blades.

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