Chest pain is one of the most feared symptoms, and people immediately think in a heart attack. Most people have a broad understanding about how patients perceive heart attacks, and they still take a very long time in calling a doctor or reaching the emergency room, usually about 2 or 3 hours. That is because people often misunderstand a few details about heart attack and they are not quite sure whether or not they should look for medical attention. Additionally, not all patients feel the same, and many cases of heart attack go unnoticed for a very long time.
The clinical name of a heart attack is myocardial infarction. It is caused by a sudden and unexpected interruption of the blood flow to the cardiac muscle. It is usually associated with atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries and certain heart symptoms enclosed in a clinical entity called coronary syndrome. In most cases, patients are aware of a heart condition and may have had symptoms previously, but sometimes it is entirely unexpected with no warning signs or symptoms.
Thus, it is essential to recognise the symptoms of a heart attack if we want to respond immediately to this emergency and look for urgent medical attention. The most common symptoms are as follows:
It’s by far the most critical symptom in myocardial infarction. The type of chest pain usually described in heart attacks is a severe chest pain located in the middle of the chest, and sometimes taking the left shoulder or radiating to the left arm. In most cases, it is a very severe pain that would not let patients perform their activities, and they usually hold their chest with a tightened hand, desperate to relieve their symptoms in one way or another.
Sometimes there are patients with a very high pain threshold who do not recognise chest pain, and it goes unnoticed, but this is not common, usually appearing in very advanced cases of diabetes and other disorders affecting the nervous system. It is described as squeezing, burning or aching. Sometimes it can be described as a sharp pain as well.
The typical chest pain starts all of a sudden with high intensity, but in some cases, patients may experience prodromal symptoms with chest discomfort instead of pain and general malaise.