Most people know that shooting pain in the chest or down the arm might be the first symptom of a heart attack, but fewer understand that pain in the neck, back, and jaw may also be a sign of heart trouble.
"In a 2005 survey, most respondents — 92 percent — recognized chest pain as a symptom of a heart attack. Only 27 percent were aware of all major symptoms and knew to call 911 when someone was having a heart attack," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
. "About 47 percent of sudden cardiac deaths occur outside a hospital. This suggests that many people with heart disease don't act on early warning signs."
Pain during a heart attack can vary from a "sudden, severe chest pain" to a "dull pain," according to Everyday Health
: 4 Things You'll Feel Before a Heart Attack
"Everyone I've met who has had a heart attack says it's different from anything they experienced before," Dr. Malissa Wood of the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center in Boston told the health publication.
The chest pain felt during a heart attack, no matter where it is felt, typically is caused as parts of the heart are deprived of oxygen, according to WebMD
The coronary arteries bring oxygen-rich blood to the heart, but in coronary artery disease, those vessels becomes constricted, slowing blood flow and even stopping it altogether, WebMD said. Plaque builds up on the artery walls, and if it ruptures, blood clots form around the plaque. "If a blood clot totally blocks the artery, the heart muscle becomes 'starved' for oxygen," the website said. "Within a short time, death of heart muscle cells occurs, causing permanent damage. This is a heart attack."
Pain in your arms, neck, and other areas is sometimes referred pain. The Heart Sisters website explained
: "Your heart attack may cause a sensation of pain to travel from your heart to your spinal cord, where many nerves merge onto the same nerve pathway. Your arm may be perfectly fine, but your brain thinks that part of the heart’s pain is the arm (or the jaw or the shoulder or the elbow or the neck or the upper back) calling out for help. That’s what referred pain is."
URGENT: Assess Your Heart Attack Risk Now — Click Here
As heart muscles are deprived of oxygen, they emit pain signals through the nervous system, and the brain may confuse where those symptoms are coming from because of nearby nerves, Heart Sisters said.
"So there are times that we can feel both chest pain and arm pain when our heart muscle is not getting enough oxygen, but there are other times that discomfort in either arm (or the jaw, shoulder, elbow, neck or upper back) may be the only symptom of a heart attack," the site cautioned.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.