Suffering from pain around my heart
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.
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.