Is this the onset of a heart attack?
The new guidelines describe the sensations that patients may experience during a heart attack, as well as other probable causes of chest pain.
Never hesitate to contact 911 if you fear you are suffering a heart attack. When confronted with a potentially fatal situation, the saying "better safe than sorry" is always appropriate. However, there is an issue with the two terms we frequently employ to describe heart attack symptoms - chest pain.
Now, the first-ever guidelines for evaluating and diagnosing chest pain seek to clarify the situation by cataloguing the range of suspected heart attack symptoms. "Rather than using the term "pain," individuals frequently use the terms "pressure," "tightness," "squeezing," or "heaviness." Additionally, symptoms may manifest in the shoulders, arms, neck, back, upper abdomen, or jaw. The report, which was released late last year, also includes a road map to assist physicians in assessing chest discomfort through the selective use of the latest available diagnostics.
The symptoms experienced by women may vary.
Chest pain is one of the most common reasons for emergency room visits, and many of these patients are women 65 years and older. Despite this, research indicates that women with reduced blood flow to the heart are less likely to receive timely and adequate care. The most common sign of a heart attack in both men and women is chest tightness. However, women are more prone to experience additional symptoms, such as nausea and shortness of breath. Historically, physicians frequently referred to these symptoms as "atypical" - a term that the new guidelines now prohibit, as it can be interpreted to suggest less serious or harmless. Rather than using this misleading word, physicians should use the terms cardiac, possibly cardiac, or noncardiac.
Is it angina — or is it something else?
Cardiac or heart-related pain is typically caused by restricted blood flow to the heart's arteries, which can result in brief periods of chest discomfort, most commonly after physical effort or stress, referred to as stable angina. If the symptoms worsen and last longer than 10 minutes, you may be having a heart attack.
Chest pain can also be caused by various disorders affecting the heart or surrounding organs. Indeed, almost half of persons who have chest discomfort are eventually diagnosed with a noncardiac cause of their symptoms. Self-diagnosis, on the other hand, is discouraged, and any health concern should be reviewed by a physician.
Conditions that could be mistaken for a heart attack
Discomfort or pain in the chest centre may be caused by issues unrelated to the heart's blood flow. One is pericarditis, which is frequently caused by a viral infection and results in swelling and irritation of the heart's double-layered membrane. The discomfort is typically severe and worsens with inhalation and lying down. However, more common causes – ones that have nothing to do with the heart — include the following:
Reflux of acid. Acid reflux, sometimes called heartburn, occurs when irritating stomach juices back up into the oesophagus, the tube linking the throat and stomach. Often, it occurs following a large or spicy meal. The pain begins immediately behind the breastbone and progresses up the throat, worsening with lying down or bending over. Additionally, a bitter or sour sensation in the back of the throat may occur.
Musculoskeletal or joint problems. A strained or torn muscle might result in severe chest pain. This can occur if you perform an excessive number of push-ups, bench presses, or similar workouts – particularly if you are out of shape. Additionally, an uncomfortable fall can harm a chest or upper body muscle. Costochondritis, a less common ailment, is caused by inflammation of the cartilage between the ribs and the breastbone; the underlying cause is frequently unknown. It might cause severe or painful chest pain that becomes worse when you inhale deeply or cough.
Lung issues. Pleuritis can also be caused by inflammation of the membranes that divide the lungs from the chest wall. Pleuritis is a condition that can be caused by a variety of underlying conditions, including infections and broken ribs. It causes chest pain when you breathe that subsides when you hold your breath. Infections in the lungs, such as pneumonia, can sometimes produce pain that is misinterpreted as a heart attack.