Chest Pain: Are You Getting A Heart Attack Or Is It Something Else?
Chest Pain (Photo Credits: File Image)

If you have never suffered a heart attack before, you would probably think that you would be able to tell when it is happening. It would be that intense, sharp pain that would hit you all at once right?  Well, maybe not. According to a new study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, people who feel less pain are as likely to suffer a heart attack as those who complain of severe chest pain. Yes, pain is subjective but other factors also cause chest pain. Here's when you should worry.

Intensity of Pain

It might seem worrisome but if the pain is sharp or knifelike and brought on by breathing or coughing, you do not have to call 911. However, if you have the sensation of pain, or of pressure, tightness, squeezing or burning, immediately get in touch with your doctor as this type of pain can signal a heart attack.

Duration of Pain

Most heart attack patients have complained of gradual onset of pain over the course of a few minutes. So if it is a sudden stabbing pain that lasts only a few seconds, it could be due to angina or due to indigestion or a muscle spasm. Anxiety may cause a dull aching, persistent pain around the left nipple, alternating with attacks of sharp, lancinating stabs lasting a few seconds.

Pain Area

If the pain is in the diffuse area, including constant pain in the middle of the chest, it is signalling a heart attack. However, if you experience pain and tightness on one side of the body, it could be caused by a number of conditions like anxiety, muscle strain or trauma.

Extent of Pain

Typically, a heart attack is characterised by pain that extends to the left arm, neck, jaw, or back. So if the pain is localised to one small spot, you are not getting a heart attack. Know the difference between heart attack and cardiac arrest. 

Symptoms Accompanying Pain

Apart from the chest pain, a heart attack is accompanied by other signs, such as difficulty breathing, a cold sweat, or sudden nausea. However, if you experience pain that lasts for many hours or days without any other symptoms, you can be sure that you are not getting an attack.

Pain Triggers

If the pain or pressure appears during or after physical exertion or emotional stress or while you are at rest, it could be a warning sign of heart attack. Pain reproduced by pressing on the chest or with body motion is usually caused by a physical injury like a muscle spasm.

With all the possible health problems that can cause your chest to hurt, why risk it and stay home? See a doctor right away if you have chest pain. Sometimes the pain can become worse with exercise, sudden shortness of breath and sweating, and can radiates down your left arm or up into the jaw. So see your doctor to rule out any complications.