Chest pain is most commonly associated with being a symptom for heart attacks. Chest pain actually has many causes that are not cardiac-related; however, it is still a symptom that should not be taken lightly. If you are experiencing some form of chest pain, it’s important to have your doctor evaluate to determine its origin and if you need immediate attention. Read this informative article from St. Mark’s cardiologist, Dr. Brian Shiosawa, for more information on chest pain.
The importance of identifying chest pain promptly is a big deal in this country. Every year about a million people have heart attacks and a third of them will actually die before they get medical care.
The typical signs and symptoms in women and men are chest pressure and ache. Sometimes it’ll even feel like pain radiating in the arms or into the jaw. Sometimes a person has a sore throat. With men, often we see typical retrosternal, meaning behind the chest bone pain, and that can feel like an ache or pressure. It often lasts minutes.
Now this can radiate, as I noted before, into the jaw, into your arms, or into your back. Sometimes you’ll feel sweaty. Sometimes you’ll feel short of breath. Women are a little different though. Sometimes they don’t have heart attacks as early and sometimes their symptoms are different. For example, they may just feel fatigued or weak.
They may feel light headed or dizzy. And in fact, these symptoms may be so non-specific that they don’t think of them as chest pain related to a heart attack. People will often take too long in coming to a hospital or to a clinic to be seen and they’ll think, maybe it’s a muscle strain, maybe it’s heartburn, or maybe, they don’t want to realize that that’s truly what it is and so they ignore it.
When you come to the emergency department, whether it’s by private car or whether it’s by ambulance, you’ll be seen immediately by nurses and doctors, who will rapidly take your history, do a physical exam, and then perform a number of tests including electrocardiograms, perhaps blood tests, to rapidly diagnose if this indeed a serious condition that needs immediate treatment. If it is, they go to into certain protocols and treatments that will take immediate care of patients who have heart attacks. And they will also help stratify the chest pain, that’s an immediate problem,or if this is something less serious it can be treated as an outpatient or something by your own family physician.