Suf­fer­ing from pain around my heart

Daily Trust - - HEALTH -

I have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing chest pain around my heart for some time now es­pe­cially when I do some ex­er­cises. At times, I feel as if I am be­ing stabbed and my breath­ing be­comes laboured. I was told this could be heart at­tack. I am now see­ing a med­i­cal doc­tor.

- Cather­ine N.

From what you briefly de­scribed although not con­clu­sive, it could be Ang­ina Pec­toris (Pain orig­i­nat­ing from the heart) and/or mild heart at­tack. I will give you a gen­eral over­view about the prob­lem and its rem­edy.

The heart is a mus­cle like other parts of the body. It needs blood flow to sup­ply oxy­gen to al­low it to work. When there isn’t enough oxy­gen, the mus­cle starts to suf­fer, and when there is no oxy­gen, the mus­cle starts to die.

Heart mus­cle gets its blood sup­ply from ar­ter­ies (blood ves­sels) known as the coro­nary ar­ter­ies. Choles­terol (fats) build up can oc­cur in these blood ves­sels. This nar­rows the artery and can re­strict the amount of blood that can flow through it. If the artery be­comes too nar­row, it can­not sup­ply enough blood to the heart mus­cle when it be­comes stressed. Other risk fac­tors are: 1. Fam­ily his­tory or hered­ity or smok­ing.

2. High blood pres­sure, high choles­terol or di­a­betes mel­li­tus.

Other prob­lems not as­so­ci­ated with blood ves­sels of the heart that can cause heart at­tack may in­clude:

1. Ano­ma­lous blood ves­sels to the heart (de­formed).

2.In­ad­e­quate oxy­gena­tion. Just like any other mus­cle, heart mus­cle re­quires ad­e­quate oxy­gen sup­ply for it to work. If there isn’t ad­e­quate oxy­gen de­liv­ery, ang­ina and heart at­tack can oc­cur. Symp­toms Symp­toms of a heart at­tack may in­clude:

1. Chest pain as­so­ci­ated with short­ness of breath or pro­fuse sweat­ing.

2. Feel­ing of vom­it­ing (nau­sea).

The chest pain may be de­scribed as tight­ness, full­ness, a pres­sure, or an ache. Other pre­sen­ta­tions of heart at­tack may in­clude: 1. Indi­ges­tion. 2. Jaw ache, pain only in the shoul­ders or arms. 3. Short­ness of breath, or nau­sea and vom­it­ing. When to seek med­i­cal care Chest pain is al­most al­ways con­sid­ered an emer­gency. Clas­sic pain from a heart at­tack is de­scribed as chest pres­sure or tight­ness with ra­di­a­tion of the pain to the jaw and down the arm, ac­com­pa­nied by short­ness of breath or sweat­ing. But it is im­por­tant to remember that heart prob­lems may not al­ways present as pain or with the clas­sic symp­toms. Indi­ges­tion, nau­sea, pro­found weak­ness, pro­fuse sweat­ing, or short­ness of breath may be the main symp­toms of a heart at­tack.

Med­i­cal his­tory

Di­ag­no­sis of ang­ina is made by his­tory. Im­por­tant ques­tions in­clude: 1. When did the pain start? 2. Did the pain get bet­ter with rest? 3. Did the pain come back with ac­tiv­ity? 4. Did the pain stay in your chest or did it move some­where else, like the jaw, teeth, and arm or back? 5. Did you get short of breath? The med­i­cal his­tory also in­cludes as­sess­ing risk fac­tors for heart dis­ease, in­clud­ing: 1. Smok­ing, hy­per­ten­sion and high choles­terol. 2. Di­a­betes and pre­vi­ous his­tory of other blood ves­sel prob­lems like stroke. 3. Fam­ily his­tory of heart dis­ease, es­pe­cially at an early age. Phys­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion While the di­ag­no­sis is based on his­tory, the phys­i­cal exam can give some clues. Elec­tro­car­dio­gram, blood tests and chest X-ray are other tests that are likely to be per­formed to as­sist with the di­ag­no­sis. Good man­age­ment is to re­port early to hos­pi­tal when one suf­fers pain and other dis­com­fort that sug­gest heart at­tack, en­sure rest and im­prove on pos­i­tive liv­ing in line with the risk fac­tors men­tioned above.

DR AMINU MA­GASHI health­in­ter­ac­tive@hot­mail.com

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