Heart attack or myocardial infarction (MI) occurs when coronary arteries that supply oxygen rich blood to the heart are blocked. Due to blockage of blood supply to heart the may radiate to other parts of the body including arms, shoulder, neck, jaw and teeth.
The pain following a sudden cardiac arrest or myocardial infarction is usually similar to classic angina, but tends to be more severe and lasts longer (more than half an hour). The pain can be severely or mild it can feel like heart muscles dies or becomes permanently damaged. Acute chest pain is one of the major symptoms of heart attack. You may feel the pain in only one part of the body, or it a tight band around the chest, something heavy sitting on your chest (like an “elephant sitting on the chest”), squeezing or tight pain. Pain may improve or worsen with physical activity or rest and there may be other symptoms associated with hearts attack like sweating, nausea, rapid heart beat and shortness of breathe.
In majority of individuals, the location of the pain is in the centre of the chest under the sternum (breastbone). The pain is more often located under the lower two thirds of the sternum. The next most common area of pain is the upper half of breastbone and the cavity of the stomach. Heart pain occurs mainly in the middle of the chest, and cardiologist often use term “central retrosternal chest pain” as being typically from heart attack. Finally, pain from all three areas radiates up or down to involve entire chest area, neck, throat, lower jaws, teeth (feeling like toothache) arms and shoulders. Sometimes the pain is felt in wrists, fingers or back. Left arm discomfort is more common than right arm, if the pain is present only in the upper limb, then the accompanying signs and symptoms of heart attack becomes more prominent.
If the pain is felt below the level of belly button, it is not from the heart attack. In addition, pain from heart attack very rarely goes to the back. If it goes, it is usually felt in area between the left shoulder blade and the spine. If the patient is able to locate the pain with a finger, it is unlikely to be caused due to cardiac attack.
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