When you think of chest pain you immediately panic and think you’re having a heart attack but that is not always the case. Chest pain can occur for many reasons, but don’t rule out a heart attack just yet. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms. You should always try to prevent illnesses from becoming life-threatening. Keep reading to inform yourself of the possible complications your body might be experiencing and to know when it’s time to go to the emergency room for chest pain.
Signs and Symptoms of a heart attack
The first things you want to check for are warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack. Besides chest pain, a heart attack can present itself with the following symptoms:
- Diaphoresis or breaking into a cold sweat. This is your body going into survival mode. Your body is sensing that something is not right and therefore trying to defend you from the ailment.
- Fainting: Your body is shutting down.
- Nausea or vomiting: A heart attack may disrupt your digestive system because it is a major shock to your entire body.
- Numbness and pain: when your heart muscle is not getting enough oxygen, your brain gives the signal that your body is in trouble and calls for help in the form of pain. Common areas of pain include the left arm leading up to the jaw, center of the chest, back, and elbow.
- Extreme lightheadedness or dizziness: your heart ‘s not pumping enough blood to your brain.
- Shortness of breath: Your heart and lungs are no longer working together to bring oxygen to your body.
- Fatigue: Your heart is not pumping blood properly, causing every system to slow down.
Other conditions related to chest pain
Heart Valve Disease
The heart contains four valves. Heart valves open and close to allow blood to flow in one direction through the heart and ensure proper circulation. When one or more of the valves stop working properly, heart valve diseases can develop. Symptoms of heart valve disease are extremely similar to a heart attack. Complications from heart valve disease can be fatal, while it’s not a heart attack you should be examined immediately.
The restriction of blood flow to the heart that produces chest pain is called angina. Those who suffer from angina have a high chance for a heart attack. Chest pain is worrisome when accompanied by the symptoms described for a heart attack. Having multiple symptoms occurring at the same time is when you know your body is in crisis.
Viral infections associated with pneumonia can lead to the lungs becoming infected and swollen, leading to experiencing chest pain. If your chest pain stems from pneumonia, you will also experience chills, fever, cough, and sore throat. You are likely to confuse it with the flu than with a heart attack. To know the difference, it is recommended to get tested for the flu, strep, and other infections that can attack the lungs.
It is very common to confuse acid reflux with a heart attack due to the sharp chest pain, but in the case of acid reflux, stomach acid hits the esophagus, causing an intense pain in your chest that can last a while due to the acid’s strength.
Similar to acid reflux, ulcers can cause chest pain with stomach acid. In this case, the stomach acid erodes your esophagus, causing the pain that stretches from your navel to your chest. Your symptoms will be more closely related to the digestive system such as indigestion, nausea, vomiting, change in appetite, weight loss, and bloody or dark stool.
When you experience a panic attack, the muscles in your chest wall contract. Along with chest pain, you may experience many symptoms related to a heart attack. The differences between the two are that chest pain related to a heart attack starts small and escalates as time passes. With panic attacks, the pain is sharp and strong from the start. Pain associated with a heart attack travels throughout the body while pain related to a panic attack is specific to one area.
Heavy lifting or weight lifting can also cause chest discomfort because you have been adding an overwhelming amount of pain to your body. It is always important to practice safe ways when lifting heavy objects in order to avoid injury.
When to go to the emergency room for chest pain
If you are experiencing chest pain that is accompanied by other symptoms, it is critical that you receive medical attention as soon as possible. Timing is important when dealing with heart attacks as they can be fatal and result in death. Please call 911 if you or a loved one is having a heart attack.
You know your body more than anyone else, so if you feel it’s an emergency don’t hesitate to call 911 so they can send an ambulance.
If you feel something ‘s not quite right, then that is when to go to the emergency room for chest pain. Many cases, especially with women, don’t show the typical signs of a heart attack. Women are more likely to not experience chest pain or pain in their left arm.
Stop by any of our 3 locations if you are experiencing chest pain. Our River Oaks emergency room, Katy emergency room, and Clear Creek emergency room are ready to assist you at a moment’s notice. At Village Emergency Centers, we strive to provide you and your loved ones quality medical emergency care. Our emergency centers are conveniently open 24/7 and accept walk-ins because we know emergencies are not events that can be planned. Get directions here to visit one of our locations.