Angina And Heart Attack Risk Factors
Angina and heart attack are usually caused by underlying coronary artery disease, which has certain risk factors some you can change, others you cant.
Risk factors you can change:
- family history of heart disease
- ethnicity Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander and certain other populations are at higher risk
It is important to remember that people without these risk factors can also experience angina or a heart attack.
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Immediate Action Required: Phone 999 Immediately If:
You or someone else has symptoms like:
- central chest pain or discomfort in the chest that doesn’t go away it may feel like pressure, tightness or squeezing
- pain that radiates down the left arm, or both arms, or to the neck, jaw, back or stomach
- difficulty breathing
- rapid heart beat
- low or undetectable heart beat
- blue or pale tingling of knees, hands and lips
- chest pain and breathlessness, nausea, sweating or coughing up blood
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Seek Urgent Medical Help For Chest Pain
With chest pain, every minute counts. The faster you get to hospital for treatment, the better.
If any activity brings on chest pain, follow these steps:
1.Stop what you are doing and rest immediately.
2.Talk tell someone how you feel.
If you take angina medication:
- Wait 5 minutes. If you still have symptoms take another dose of your medicine.
- Wait 5 minutes. If your symptoms dont go away
3.Call 000 and chew on 300mg aspirin .
- Ask for an ambulance.
- Wait for the operators instructions.
Do not take aspirin if you have an allergy to aspirin, or your doctor has told you not to take it.
Remember, if you have any doubt about your pain, call an ambulance anyway.
Do not drive yourself to hospital. Wait for the ambulance. It has specialised staff and equipment that may save your life.
Describe Chest Pain To Your Doctor
Doctors use several pieces of information to determine who is, and who isn’t, having a heart attack. In addition to the description of your symptoms and your heart risk profile, doctors use the results of an electrocardiogram and a blood test called cardiac troponin. But sometimes these don’t immediately show abnormalities. So, what you describe to the doctor and your medical history are extremely important in determining the initial steps in your treatment.
Here are some things your doctors will want to know about what you are experiencing:
What is it that you are feeling ?
Where is the discomfort?
Has it gotten worse or stayed the same?
Is the feeling constant, or does it come and go?
Have you felt it before?
What were you doing before these feelings started?
Clear answers to these questions go a long way toward nailing down a diagnosis. A few seconds of recurrent stabbing pain is less likely to be a heart attack , while pain centered in the chest that spreads out to the left arm or jaw is more likely to be one.
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Facts About Chest Pain
Have you ever felt a sharp pain in your chest and were convinced you were having a heart attack? Maybe you even went to the emergency room or called your doctor only to find out that your “heart attack” was actually a strained muscle. Or maybe you were absolutely positive your chest pain was just heartburn, but it turned out to be a heart attack after all.
The truth is, it’s not easy to tell what’s behind your chest pain and whether the cause is life-threatening or just a nuisance. So we spoke to interventional cardiologist Gary Schaer, MD, from Rush who shared five things everyone should know about chest pain.
Treating Chest And Back Pain
Treatment for your chest and back pain depends on what is causing it. An accurate diagnosis is essential to get relief from your symptoms.
For digestive conditions, you may need to alter your diet or take medication to help manage symptoms.
To treat heart conditions, you may need to make lifestyle changes, diet alterations, and take medication.
For other causes of chest or back pain, your provider will give you clear instructions on how to treat or manage your condition.
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Diagnosis Of Chest Pain
Before medical treatment can begin, the cause of the pain must be found. You may a have a lot of tests done including:
- Electrocardiogram electrical tracing of the heart activity.
- Blood tests to measure markers from the heart and other organs.
- Chest x-ray to look at the lungs, heart and major blood vessels of the chest.
If your healthcare professional thinks you may have angina, they may order further tests to check the state of the blood vessels that supply your heart. They may also arrange an exercise stress test or other tests such as an angiogram or CT scan of your chest.
It is not always easy to diagnose the cause of chest pain. Your doctor may need to see you more than once to be sure, and further tests may be needed, or you may be referred to a cardiologist .
Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
Chest pain is likely the most familiar sign of a heart attack. Many patients note a squeezing, pressure-type sensation thats often described as a weight sitting on your chest. Sometimes, however, the pain is much more subtle and better described as an aching discomfort.
While chest pain may seem quite vague when trying to decide when to call 911, being aware of other common symptoms that accompany a looming heart attack can help. These include:
- Symptoms that are often mistaken for abdominal issues, including nausea or heartburn
- Sudden sweating and shortness of breath without or with limited exertion
- Fatigue when performing simple tasks such as making the bed or shopping
- Shortness of breath when lying flat that improves when you sit up
- Chest pain that starts with exertion and stops when you rest
Pain associated with a heart attack often radiates to other areas of the body as nearby nerves become irritated and may include:
- Arm pain, typically the left arm in men but occurring in either or both arms in women
- Upper or lower back pain thats often centralized , and more common in women than men
- Pain in the left lower jaw
Back pain related to a heart attack tends to occur suddenly and without physical exertion, such as when youre sleeping.
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Less Likely To Be A Heart Attack
Sensation of pain, or of pressure, tightness, squeezing, or burning
Sharp or knifelike pain brought on by breathing or coughing
Gradual onset of pain over the course of a few minutes
Sudden stabbing pain that lasts only a few seconds
Pain in diffuse area, including a constant pain in middle of chest
Pain clearly on one side of the body or the other
Pain that extends to the left arm, neck, jaw, or back
Pain that is localized to one small spot
Pain or pressure accompanied by other signs, such as difficulty breathing, a cold sweat, or sudden nausea
Pain that lasts for many hours or days without any other symptoms
Pain or pressure that appears during or after physical exertion or emotional stress or while you are at rest
Pain reproduced by pressing on the chest or with body motion
Pain On The Left Side
Pain in the center to left side of the chest and back could be a symptom of one of the heart conditions below.
Stable angina is a predictable type of chest pain that occurs when the blood flow to the heart is restricted.
Angina usually causes a feeling of pressure, fullness, or tightness in the chest. A person may also experience related discomfort or pain in other areas, including:
- the shoulder or arm
With stable angina, the above symptoms usually occur when the heart requires a greater supply of blood. This may be during physical activity or when a person is experiencing strong emotions.
Pain in the center to left side of the chest and back could indicate a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when blood to the heart is cut off or severely reduced and the heart muscle is injured.
According to the , the most common symptoms of a heart attack include:
- pain, tightness, or a squeezing feeling in the middle of the chest
- pain in the back, neck, or jaw
- pain in one or both arms or shoulders
- nausea or vomiting
Another way to identify the cause of chest and back pain is to identify the factors or situations that trigger the pain.
The following sections will discuss some potential triggers of this type of pain.
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How Can Chest Pains Be Prevented
You can reduce your risk of heart, vascular and other diseases by following a healthy lifestyle. This includes:
- A healthy diet. Your healthcare provider or registered dietitian can help you create an eating plan thats right for you.
- Managing health conditions you have, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
- Exercising most days of the week.
- Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.
- Limiting the amount of alcohol you drink.
- Not using tobacco products.
While Waiting For The Ambulance
Stop any activity and rest while waiting for an ambulance. Dont try to drive yourself to hospital. Loosen any tight clothing, such as collar buttons or ties. Avoid breathing in cigarette smoke. Dont have anything to eat or drink.
If you have been prescribed angina medicine, sit or lie down and take a dose of this under your tongue. If this doesnt relieve your symptoms in 5 minutes, try taking 2 more doses at 5-minute intervals.
Chew 300mg aspirin straight away, unless you’re allergic or your doctor has told you not to. Do not give aspirin to anyone under 12 years.
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Time = Heart Muscle So Don’t Wait To Get Help
If you think you’re having a heart attack, Time is of the essence: The longer a coronary artery is 100 percent blocked, the more heart damage will occur.
“Never drive yourself or have someone drive you to the hospital,” says Schaer. “The emergency medical technicians who respond to the 911 call are best equipped to care for heart attack patients, monitor them for any abnormal heart rhythms that can develop and rapidly transport them to the nearest hospital capable of opening the artery with angioplasty.”
If you’re concerned about chest pain, or if persistent chest pain is interfering with your quality of life, talk to your doctor. He or she can run tests to pinpoint the source of your pain, help you get relief and potentially prevent more serious health problems down the road.
How Is Chest Pain Treated
Treatment for chest pain depends on the cause of the pain. If a heart attack is causing your chest pain, youll get emergency treatment as soon as you seek help. This can include medication and a procedure or surgery to restore blood flow to your heart.
If a noncardiac condition is causing your chest pain, your healthcare provider will talk to you about treatment options. Depending on your illness and how bad it is, they may recommend:
- Lifestyle changes.
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What Are The Warning Signs Of A Heart Attack
There are several different warning signs of a heart attack, and they are not always sudden or severe. Whether or not your chest pain symptoms include mild to severe pain, they should be considered heart-related until proven otherwise.
People having a heart attack may have just one of these symptoms, or a combination of several. They can come on suddenly or develop over a few minutes and get progressively worse. Symptoms usually last for at least 10 minutes.
Warning signs could include:
- discomfort or pain in the centre of your chest a heaviness, tightness or pressure, like something heavy sitting on your chest, or a belt tightening around your chest, or a bad case of indigestion
- discomfort in your arms, shoulder, neck, jaw or back
- other problems such as:
Women and men can experience the signs and symptoms of a heart attack differently.
Although chest pain is thought to be the most common symptom of heart attack and it is common in men only about half of all women who have a heart attack actually report chest pain.
Heart attacks are more common in older people than in younger people, but they can occur in people of any age.
The pain you have may not sound like that described above, but its still important to see a doctor. Remember, all chest pain should be checked out by a doctor as soon as possible.
Chest Tightness And Back Pain
Many medical conditions can cause chest tightness and back pain. It is vital to take such symptoms seriously and do what you can to receive help. If you can, you should visit the doctor for an evaluation to help determine what is wrong.
If you cant, you will need the advice to help you make sensible decisions. We will provide you with the tools you need, so follow along and take notes.
All medical conditions manifest symptoms that enable doctors to have a general idea of what could be wrong. Without such signs, it would be more challenging to diagnose an individual.
You need to examine the symptoms of the illnesses on the list with your own. Eliminate any that dont match and focus on those that do. Compare that group for similar treatments, which will help determine what you can use.
If you do this, the chances of treating the wrong thing become non-existent. You should notice some easing of the symptoms after some time. We want to encourage you to find your way to a doctor even if you start to feel better.
Here is a list of medical issues that cause chest tightness and back pain.
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When Should I Call Triple Zero And Ask For An Ambulance
If you have any of the symptoms below, call triple zero immediately and ask for an ambulance. If calling triple zero does not work on your mobile phone, try calling 112.
- your chest pain is severe, or worsening, or has lasted longer than 10 minutes
- your chest pain feels heavy, crushing or tight
- you have other symptoms, such as breathlessness, nausea, dizziness or a cold sweat
- you also feel the pain in your jaw or down your left arm
What Are The Most Common Causes Of Chest Pain
Although most people think of chest pain as a sign of a heart issue/heart attack, many things can cause it. Chest pain can be a symptom of:
Heart and vascular problems
Heart muscle dies when it cant get enough oxygen because of a blockage in the coronary artery supplying its blood.
Coronary artery disease
Cholesterol buildup can narrow and block the blood vessels that carry blood to your heart. Its typically worse with exercise because you cant get enough blood to the heart muscle and clogged coronary arteries.
Coronary artery dissection
A coronary artery wall can rip, create a bulge and block your artery. This causes pressure or pain in your chest, and it could lead to a heart attack.
An infection or other cause can start inflammation in the lining around your heart, causing a sharp pain in your chest. The pain can spread to your left shoulder and arm. The pain can be worse when youre lying down and worse when taking deep breaths.
The muscle walls of your pumping ventricles become thick and stiff. With this issue, you cant get enough blood into or out of your hearts chambers, and your heart has a harder time getting oxygen-rich blood. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy usually happens because of a problem in the genes you got from your parents.
Mitral valve prolapse
Gastroesophageal reflux disease
Muscle spasms in your esophagus
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The Pain May Not Be Coming From Your Heart Or Even Your Chest
While chest pain is one of the hallmarks of heart problems, it’s important to note that any organ or tissue in your chest including the lungs, esophagus, muscles, tendons, ribs and nerves can be a source of chest pain.
“Pain can also radiate to the chest from the neck, abdomen and back, creating the illusion that it’s originating with your heart,” Schaer says. In fact, in roughly 25 percent of people in the U.S. who experience chest pain, the cause is related to parts of the body other than the heart, including the following:
- Gastrointestinal diseases
- Conditions of the lungs or a collapsed lung
Experiencing Upper Back And Chest Pain
Your upper back is supported by the thoracic spine that runs from the base of your neck to your lower back. Your ribs also protect your chest cavity and vital organs from injury. Because your spine, ribs, and organs like the heart are so close to one another, pain in one area can cause discomfort in other areas. Here is what it might feel like to have chest and upper back pain at the same time.
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