Archive for March, 2013

Chest Pain

Not all chest pain indicates a cardiac problem, but you need to be sure that it is not your heart causing the discomfort!

Chest pain comes in many varieties, ranging from a sharp stab to a dull ache. Some types of chest pain can be described as crushing or burning. In certain cases, the pain travels up the neck, pierces through to the back or radiates down one or both arms.

Many different types of problems can cause chest pain. Because it can be difficult to determine what exactly is causing chest pain, it’s best to seek immediate medical help.

A wide range of health problems can cause chest pain. In many cases, the underlying cause has nothing to do with your heart — though there’s no easy way to tell without seeing a doctor. Other causes of chest pain include heart failure or pulmonary edema, which may be life-threatening situations.

Make sure your health care provider is always aware of any chest pain or discomfort. Some studies have shown that men and women perceive pain differently. Women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain. However, as with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort.

Diabetics frequently experience heart attacks, having no symptoms, referred to as a ‘silent heart attack.”

Pre-heart attack or prodromal symptoms are symptoms that occur before a heart attack, generally from about 4 to 6 months to 1 week before (though some people report these symptoms up to 2 years before their heart attack).

Common pre-heart attack symptoms include unusual fatigue, sleep disturbance, shortness of breath, chest pain, indigestion, and/or pain in shoulder blade or upper back.

Should you experience any of these symptoms, immediately call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number so an ambulance (ideally with advanced life support) can be sent for you.

Learn the signs, but remember this: Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, have it checked out (tell a doctor about your symptoms). Minutes matter! Fast action can save lives — maybe your own. Don’t wait more than five minutes to call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number.

Calling 9-1-1 is almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment. Emergency medical services (EMS) staff can begin treatment when they arrive — up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. EMS staff are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. Patients with chest pain who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital, too. It is best to call EMS for rapid transport to the emergency room.

If you suspect it is cardiac related, call 911 and consider chewing an aspirin. (Aspirin can help reduce clotting, but if you are allergic or do not tolerate aspirin – do not take any). Check with your physician prior to taking aspirin.

There is a website called aspirinpod.com that offers a necklace to carry the aspirin until you need it.

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