Chest Pain can Be a Variety of Conditions
can be a symptom of a variety of conditions—some that aren’t even related to the heart. But since a heart attack can be fatal
, it’s important to recognize the common symptoms that can help you quickly decide if you should get emergency room care for chest pain.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack:
- Flushing or breaking out into a cold sweat
- Nausea or vomiting
- Numbness, pain, prickling or other sensations in the back, one or both arms, jaw, neck or stomach
- Severe lightheadedness or dizziness
- Shortness of breath
- Squeezing, tightness, burning, uncomfortable pressure or pain in the center of the chest
- Sudden aching in one or both arms
- Sudden fatigue
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, you should seek emergency medical care.
Often, over the course of several minutes, chest pain builds gradually and radiates to other areas of the upper body, such as your neck, throat, teeth, arms and shoulders. It’s important to note that sometimes patients will have only upper stomach pain, or pain between the shoulder blades as their only symptom. Chest pain is often worsened by exertion and relieved by rest.
Deciding if it’s a Medical Emergency
There are some general guidelines that may be useful for deciding when a chest pain is serious. But keep in mind that these guidelines are only that—guidelines—and that “better safe than sorry” may be the most appropriate, overriding rule to follow.
Chest pain is more likely to represent a dangerous condition—and should be treated as such— if any of the following are true:
- You are 40 years old or older and have one or more risk factors for CAD (including family history, smoking, obesity, elevated cholesterol, and diabetes).
- You have a strong family history of early heart disease.
- The pain is accompanied by chest tightness, squeezing, heaviness, or a crushing sensation.
- The pain is accompanied by weakness, nausea, shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness, or fainting.
- The pain radiates to the shoulders, arms, or jaw.
- The pain is more severe than any you’ve had before.
- The pain is unlike anything you’ve experienced before.
- The pain is accompanied by a sense of impending doom.
- The pain gets continually worsens over the first 10 to 15 minutes.