Chest Pain Pressure Squeezing And Fullness
Picture someone having a heart attack, and chances are you imagine them gasping for air and clutching their chest before falling unconscious. While you may experience chest pain during a heart attack, it may not be as dramatic. In some cases, it may not even be described as pain. Instead, it may feel more like pressure or squeezing in the chest.
Chest pain or chest discomfort is caused by an insufficient supply of oxygen-rich blood to your heart. During a heart attack, you may feel this pain in the center of the chest. It can last for a few minutes and disappear, or it may recur after a short break.
This symptom is a warning sign of blocked or narrowed arteries. Dont hesitate to report this to your doctor, even if this and other symptoms are not intense.
Other Potential Heart Attack Signs
Heart attack signs look different for everyone, although there are a few common ones to watch for.
- Neck, jaw, arm, and back pain: Pain radiating to your jaw, back, neck, or arms may signal a heart condition, especially if the origin is hard to pinpoint. For example, you might feel pain, but no specific muscle or joint aches. If the discomfort begins or worsens when you are exerting yourself, and then stops when you quit exercising, you should also get it checked out.
- Unexpected sweating: During menopause, many women experience hot flashes. However, sudden or excessive sweating associated with other symptoms such as nausea or chest pressure can also be a heart attack sign. Stress sweat when there is no real cause for stress, or sweating or shortness of breath accompanied by other symptoms, such as chest pain or fatigue, can be cause for concern.
- Chest pain: Chest pain/pressure is a very common heart attack sign, but can feel different than you might think. We need to dig deeper into the symptom of chest pain for both men and women as it relates to heart attacks, Dr. Cho says. It is seldom as dramatic as you might think, and it can feel like pressure or heart burn that comes on over time.
Can An Anxiety Attack Really Feel That Bad
During an anxiety attack, adrenaline courses through your body. Everyone experiences the result of this adrenaline differently, but some symptoms are common, such as a racing heart, shortness of breath, tightness in your chest, dizziness, sweating, trembling, an upset stomach and a feeling like you might die.
Unfortunately, a panic attack has symptoms that closely resemble those of a heart attack, making it hard to tell the difference between the two, says cardiologist , who practices at the UW Medicine Regional Heart Center Cardiology Clinic.
Your body is preparing you to either fight off a threat or flee to safety, and thats serious stuff, she says.
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Connections Between Shoulder Pain And Heart Attack
Discomfort from a heart attack can cause chest pain or even shoulder pain. So if you are experiencing shoulder or arm pain on the left side, you may be having a heart attack. However, Heart attack is not the only cause of these types of pain. So it is important to be aware of different body pains that can be indications of heart attacks.
Strong Indicators of a Heart Attack
Weak Indicators of a Heart Attack
Burning, squeezing, tightness, pressure or pain sensation
Knifelike or sharp pain felt when coughing or sneezing
Gradual increase of pain over a few minutes
Pain concentrated on one point.
Pain in the diffuse area, including middle of chest
Pain occurring distinctly on one side of the body
Pain extending to back, jaw, neck, and left arm
Abrupt stubbing pain that lasts for a very short moment
Pressure or pain accompanied by other symptoms like sudden nausea, cold sweat, problems breathing
Pain lasting for days or hours without any other symptoms
Pressure or pain that is felt during emotional stress or physical exertion or when you are resting
Pain caused by pressing the chest or body movement
What Causes Heart Attacks
The most common cause of a heart attack is coronary heart disease. This is where fatty deposits, cholesterol and other substances build up in the walls of the coronary arteries that supply oxygen to the heart. Over time, this build-up hardens into plaque that can break off at any time and cause a blood clot which blocks the artery.
In some cases, heart attacks have another cause:
- Coronary artery spasm is an unusual narrowing of blood vessels that can stop blood flow to the heart.
- Spontaneous coronary artery dissection is a sudden tear in the wall of a coronary artery, which can also affect people who have few risk factors for heart disease.
Certain lifestyle factors are shown to increase your chances of heart disease and having a heart attack.
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Heart Attack Warning Signs For Men
The classic symptom of chest pain may not be present in every heart attack, but it remains the most common warning sign, especially among men.
The pain is often described as a heavy weight on the chest. It tends to be located in the center of the chest, but it can be felt from armpit to armpit.
Other heart attack symptoms that are common among men include:
- shortness of breath, which sometimes develops before any other symptoms, and may be present when sitting still or moving around
- a sudden cold sweat
- symptoms that come on quickly
Heart Attacks When Theres A Language Barrier
Research has found that individuals who dont speak the local language are less likely to:
- Know the signs and symptoms of heart attack
- See doctors regularly, which may help to lower the risk of heart attack
Others who may be unable to communicate efficiently could experience the same problems. Additionally, adults who are nonverbal may have difficulty expressing that theyre having a heart attack and need medical attention.
If your loved one has communication challenges and doesnt feel well, ask about subtle symptoms. You may help them get the care that they need.
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You Feel Dizzy Or Lightheaded
A lot of things can make you lose your balance or feel faint for a moment. Maybe you didnât have enough to eat or drink, or you stood up too fast.
But if you suddenly feel unsteady and you also have chest discomfort or shortness of breath, call a doctor right away.
“It could mean your blood pressure has dropped because your heart isn’t able to pump the way it should,” Bufalino says.
Know The Difference Between Anxiety And Heart Attack
If youre experiencing symptoms, call 911 immediately. While there are ways to determine the difference between a panic attack and a heart attack, a medical diagnosis is the only way to be sure. Pay special attention to an episode that includes:
These physical indicators can more clearly signal a heart attack.
It is especially important to be aware of your own heart attack risk factors. For example, if youre a smoker with a family history of heart disease and have high blood pressure, youre more likely to experience a heart attack.
If, on the other hand, you experience chronic stress, suffered a recent traumatic event, or have trouble coping with lifes ups and downs, you may be dealing with anxiety. Symptoms of severe anxiety and panic often resemble a heart attack, which can worsen your distress. When anxiety feels like a heart attack, the panic can feel overwhelming. Thankfully, when stressors diminish, the symptoms usually do, too.
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What To Do If You Have Heart Attack Symptoms
Because certain symptoms, such as nausea or fatigue, can signal any number of health concerns, its important to be aware of other possible heart attack symptoms.
If you suddenly become nauseated and are having trouble catching your breath or you have serious jaw pain, call 911. Tell the 911 dispatcher you may be having a heart attack.
You may be reluctant to call 911 if youre not sure whether you or a loved one is having a heart attack, but its better to err on the side of caution.
A heart attack is often a life threatening emergency. The faster you get medical attention, the better chance you have of a good recovery.
When to call 911
Any time you have pain or pressure in your chest that lasts more than a few minutes and is different to pain youve felt before, its important to get medical attention as soon as possible. This is especially important if you have other symptoms, too, such as:
- shortness of breath
nearly a quarter of all heart attacks in the United States, according to the American Heart Association.
A silent heart attack may resolve on its own if, for example, the clot blocking blood flow dissolves or becomes dislodged and is absorbed into the body. But a silent heart attack can still cause damage.
If a doctor discovers that you had a silent heart attack, you may want to consider cardiac rehabilitation and the type of care that any other person whos had a heart attack receives.
Are You Having An Anxiety Attack Or A Heart Attack
People who suffer from panic attacks often say their acute anxiety feels like a heart attack, as many of the symptoms can seem the same. Both conditions can be accompanied by shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, sweating, a pounding heartbeat, dizziness, and even physical weakness or temporary paralysis.
Perhaps most powerful, though, is the sense of dread that overshadows both events. The fear itself can lead to an increase in these symptoms.
To learn more about living a heart-healthy lifestyle and what to do when anxiety feels like a heart attack, contact UPMCs Heart and Vascular Institute today.
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Pain In Other Parts Of The Body
While chest pain is common in a heart attack, pain may occur in other areas of the body. Many people experience heart attacks as pain that begins in the chest and spreads to the shoulders, arms, back, neck, jaw, or abdomen. Men may experience pain in their left arm during a heart attack women may experience pain in either arm or between the shoulder blades. The pain may come and go and may be mild or severe. If you experience pain similar to this, go to an emergency department immediately. You may be experiencing a heart attack.
Take Steps To Protect Your Heart
Know your risks. Some people are more likely to have a heart attack than others. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, they include people who smoke, eat an unhealthy diet that is high in saturated and trans fats and sodium, lead a sedentary lifestyle and don’t exercise, as well as people who have health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high blood sugar due to diabetes or insulin resistance. A family history of heart disease is also a risk factor.
But there are plenty of preventive steps people can take to reduce their risk of having a heart attack. Here’s what that entails:
Eat a heart-healthy diet. Fill your plate with fresh vegetables and lean proteins, and choose whole grains over processed grains. Limit added sugars, salt and saturated and trans fats. Use these tips from the USDA’s Choose My Plate project to help simplify positive changes:
Get Moving. Remove the risk associated with a sedentary lifestyle by finding ways to get physical. Start with a walk around your neighborhood, local school track or shopping mall. Walk a little farther and for a longer period of time each day. Increase your level of physical activity gradually to build up to at least a half-hour on most days every week, the AHA advises. Check in with your doctor to ask about risks or special considerations based on your health history.
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Why To Call 911
You may feel hesitant to call 911 when you arent certain that youre having a heart attack. You might try the wait-and-see approach instead, or you might consider going to the hospital by car.
If youre truly having a heart attack, the quickest way to get help is calling 911. Youll receive care as soon as EMTs arrive, and people who arrive by ambulance to the emergency department for heart attacks are seen sooner than people who arrive by car. Damage to the heart muscle may occur within the first 90 minutes after a heart attack, so getting prompt care is essential, even if you arent entirely certain that what youre experiencing is a heart attack.
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.
How Do Doctors Know What Kind Of Heart Attack Youve Had
You cant predict the outcome of a heart attack by your symptoms or how severe they are. Thats why symptoms that suggest a possible heart attack should never be ignored.
How well you fare after a heart attack depends on how quickly you act, Dr. Campbell says. The sooner you get emergency care, the better the chance you will suffer less permanent damage to your heart.
If you go to the ER with heart-attack symptom, youll be treated right away. Your blood will be examined for any enzymes indicating theres been damage to your hearts muscle. And a noninvasive echocardiogram is performed to see how well your heart is pumping.
Still it may take several hours to determine whether youve had a heart attack and what kind of treatment is needed. That means, if youre not sure what your symptoms mean, the thought of spending several hours in the ER might discourage you from seeking care. Dont let it! Dr. Campbell advises that its much wiser to err on the safe side.
Its better you spend several hours in the ER than learn the damage has been done, and your heart cant be fixed, he says.
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What To Do When Heart Attack Happens
- If you or someone near you experiences heart attack symptoms like shoulder pain, heart attack may be suspected and 911 should be called within the first 5 minutes. Ensure you seek treatment immediately, most people die because they doubt the symptoms could be heat attack related.
- You might be tempted to drive the patient to the emergency room yourself, but it is better if you wait for the ambulance. The crew will know how to keep the patient alive. However, if you are having a heart attack, do not drive yourself unless you do not have any other choice.
- Before the ambulance arrives, try keeping the patient calm by sitting him down or helping him lie down. Secondly, if the person is not allergic to aspirin make them chew and swallow a baby aspirin. The effects are felt faster when it is chewed than when swallowed whole. If you notice the person has stopped breathing, a person qualified to perform CPR should perform the procedure on him, or you can do it. If you have no idea how to administer a CPR, the 911 operator can guide you through it.
You Get Exhausted Easily
If you suddenly feel fatigued or winded after doing something you had no problem doing in the past — like climbing the stairs or carrying groceries from the car — make an appointment with your doctor right away.
“These types of significant changes are more important to us than every little ache and pain you might be feeling,” Bufalino says.
Extreme exhaustion or unexplained weakness, sometimes for days at a time, can be a symptom of heart disease, especially for women.
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What Should I Do If I Think Im Having A Heart Attack
The first thing you must do is dial 999 immediately for an ambulance. Dont worry if youre not completely sure whether your symptoms are a heart attack, its really important that you seek medical attention regardless as quickly as possible.
Next, you should:
- take a 300mg aspirin if you have one within arms reach
- stay calm and wait for the paramedics.
People often dismiss that theyre having a heart attack and will delay seeking medical attention. If youre with someone whos experiencing heart attack symptoms but theyre putting off or refusing to call an ambulance, its really important that you call one for them.
A Heart Attack Is An Individual Experience
Every person experiences a heart attack differently. You might have warning symptoms for weeks, or you could have a very sudden heart attack. Even how the pain is experienced can vary. For example, you might experience anything from no pain, to mild or severe pain. Contrary to popular belief, many people have symptoms of nearly complete loss of blood flow for days or even weeks before a heart attack. The more symptoms you have, the more likely you are to have a heart attack. Remember, you may have different symptoms and a different timeline of events for your heart attack than someone else.
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What’s The Difference Between Angina And A Heart Attack
Angina is pain felt in your chest often caused by coronary heart disease. As the symptoms of angina are similar to a heart attack, its important to know how to distinguish between the two. If you havent been diagnosed with angina and you start experiencing chest pain that feels similar to the symptoms of a heart attack, phone 999 immediately.If you have angina and you start experiencing chest pain symptoms similar to a heart attack:
- sit down and rest
- use your glyceryl trinitrate spray that youve been prescribed
- if the pain still persists after a few minutes, take another dose of your spray
- if the pain doesnt go away a few minutes after your second dose, dial 999 immediately.