Chest Pain: When To Worry

If chest pain hits, how do you know if it is a sign of something serious or just pain from heartburn or eating too much? The truth is, it may be hard to tell the difference. Although there are common symptoms of heart attack, there are exceptions, and some people experience pain differently than others. Knowing the symptoms of heart attack, and erring on the side of caution, could be a lifesaver.

Heart Attack Symptomsman with chest pain

Heart attack symptoms can vary between individuals and also between men and women. Some warning signs of heart attack include:

  • Sudden pressure or tightness of the chest, often described as feeling like a “crushing” or “squeezing” pain
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness
  • Irregular or fast heart beat
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Pressure in the chest when participating in physical activity or when under stress

Some heart attack symptoms, which may be unique to women, include:

  • An unusual feeling of fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen
  • Feeling similar to indigestion
  • Back pain between the shoulder blades

Heart Burn
Heart burn is a symptom that may have characteristics similar to heart attack, but typically:

  • It occurs after eating
  • It occurs when bending or when lying down
  • Pain radiates from the upper abdomen to the chest and neck
  • It can be short-lived or may continue for a couple hours
  • It may leave an acidic or sour taste in your mouth

Should I See a Doctor?
If you are experiencing symptoms that you think could indicate heart attack, don’t hesitate. Call 9-1-1 and get checked out to be on the safe side. If your chest pain seems to worsen with exercise or physical activity, and is combined with other symptoms listed above, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Mild chest pain due to heartburn is common, but if it persists, you may have a more serious condition referred to as GERD or Gastroesophageal reflux disease. It can lead to more serious complications and can even cause damage to the esophagus. For more information on GERD, chest pain or heart attack symptoms, visit the Medical Center of McKinney website or give us a call at 972-547-8000.

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