A heart attack is a severe condition in which a portion of the heart stops functioning and its blood supply gets blocked suddenly. Mainly heart attack occurs due to the narrowing of coronary arteries. The heart’s arteries become narrow because of plaque buildup. Plaque is a cholesterol deposit, and when plaque loses from the coronary artery, it stops the blood flow towards the heart. This condition has been referred to as coronary artery disease. Left arm pain has been a common symptom of a heart attack. If a person has a heart attack, arm or shoulder pain suddenly comes, gets intense with exertion, and is accompanied by squeezing fullness or pressure in the chest. Furthermore, a heart attack may cause pain in both arms.
What does arm pain in a heart attack feel like?
In men, the arm pain often spreads from the shoulder to the left arm or chin. While in women, the pain is subtler and radiates to the left or right arm. The arm pain involves the shoulder, upper back, and abdomen pain causing indigestion, anxiety, and nausea in women. Women often experience vomiting, nausea, jaw or back pain, and breathing problems rather than men. Furthermore, chest pain has been a typical heart attack symptom among men and women. The pressure lasts for a few minutes. Arm pain is also accompanied by a burning sensation in the chest, discomfort or pain in the back, shoulder, jaw, or neck, nausea, cold sweats, fatigue, indigestion, dizziness, or breathing difficulties in a heart attack.
Diagnosis of Arm pain in heart attack
Call the doctor immediately if a person feels a sudden pain in the left arm accompanied by breathing difficulty or tightness in the center of the chest. It is a life-threatening disease, so that the heart muscle patient can die without proper treatment. If a doctor determines that arterial blockage or heart attack is the leading cause of arm pain, he will act instantly. A cardiologist listens to the heart rhythms using a stethoscope and suggests some tests. These diagnostic tests are as follows:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG): It detects electrical signals, heart attacks, and the heart’s rhythm. Electrodes are attached to the arms and chest to examine heart failure. ECG helps in confirming the diagnosis of a heart attack.
- Echocardiogram:Echocardiogram is used to check heart conditions. It creates images of the heart by using sound waves. The doctor examines the heart beating or blood pumping through this test.
- Chest X-ray: In this imaging test, the X-ray reveals congenital heart disease or aortic aneurysms. Chest X-ray has been used to check fluid buildup in the lungs.
- Blood tests: Blood tests are done to evaluate the symptoms of a heart attack. For example, cardiac troponin is used to measure troponin levels in the blood.
- CT scan: CT scan uses X-rays to give more detailed images of the heart, aorta, coronary arteries, and heart valves and detect abnormalities. These clear pictures show the heart conditions.
- Cardiac catheterization: During this procedure, a thin tube (catheter) guides through the blood vessel to the heart and diagnoses heart disorders. For example, blockage in the arteries.
- Cardiac MRI: In this test, radio waves and a magnetic field are used to create detailed images of the heart. These clear pictures help the doctor to diagnose a heart attack.
- Physical exam: The doctor checks the patient’s medical history and performs a physical examination. For example, the arms or torso movement examines joint problems and muscle strain.
Treatments for Arm pain in heart attack
A routine consultation with a cardiologist is compulsory to treat a heart attack. The cardiologist recommends medications and a healthy lifestyle to treat the signs and symptoms, thereby reducing the risk factors. He may also suggest a nutritious diet, avoiding tobacco, doing daily exercise or physical activity, reducing alcohol, and managing stress to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Obesity enhances the risk factors of high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. The doctor also recommends managing cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels. Furthermore, he recommends non-invasive treatment based on the severity of the infection.
- Medications: Medications have been prescribed to break the blood clots, diminish blood pressure, and lower cholesterol. For example, Aspirin has been effective in preventing heart attacks. Thrombolytics and fibrinolytic have been used for the treatment of heart attacks. Furthermore, nitroglycerine has been used to improve blood flow to the heart. Beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors have been used to reduce blood pressure and prevent heart attacks. Statins can also be used to lower cholesterol levels.
The severe blockages in the arteries may need surgery. These are some treatments for restoring blood flow, which may include:
- Bypass surgery: A surgeon takes healthy blood vessels from the arm, chest, or leg to redirect blood around the blocked coronary arteries.
- Stent implantation: A thin tube called a stent is inserted inside the narrow artery to promote blood flow to the heart. A stent is beneficial for open arteries and reduces the risk factors of artery narrowing.
- Coronary angioplasty: This procedure has been used to open the coronary arteries and improve blood flow.