Chest Pain Pressure And Discomfort
Most people with heart attacks experience some sort of chest pain or discomfort. But its important to understand that chest pains dont occur in every heart attack.
Chest pain is a common sign of a heart attack. People have described this sensation as feeling like an elephant is standing on their chest.
Some people dont describe chest pain as pain at all. Instead, they may say they felt chest tightness or squeezing. Sometimes this discomfort can seem bad for a few minutes and then go away. Sometimes the discomfort comes back hours or even a day later. These could all be signs your heart muscle isnt getting enough oxygen.
If you experience chest pains or tightness, you or someone around you should call 911 immediately.
Pain and tightness can also radiate in other areas of the body. Most people associate a heart attack with pain working its way down the left arm. That can happen, but pain can also appear in other locations, including:
- upper abdomen
American Heart Association , some women may even think their heart attack symptoms are flu-like symptoms.
A heart attack can cause exhaustion due to the extra stress on your heart to try to pump while an area of blood flow is blocked. If you often feel tired or exhausted for no reason, it could be a sign that something is wrong.
When To See Your Doctor
If your shortness of breath is accompanied by fever, chest pain, tightness in the throat, and wheezing, then you could be experiencing angina or a heart attack. These combinations of symptoms require immediate attention.
In general, if you are experiencing shortness of breath for no obvious reason like exercise, or it is on-going and frequent, speak with your doctor right away. Uncovering and treating the underlying cause will be the only way to correct the shortness of breath.
In This Article
Chest Pain Under Strain Get It Checked Out
In older white males, we know chest pain may be a sign of heart attack. But we havent gotten that same sort of education with women, Baechler says. Women fear breast cancer more than heart disease, but they are more likely to have heart disease. In fact, heart disease is the No.1 killer of women in America today, causing more deaths than all types of cancer combined.
If you lift something and have chest pain that youve never had before, get it checked out. You should also see your doctor about any new chest pain when you walk upstairs or exert yourself in some way. This is particularly important if the pain goes away after a short period of rest. Women are more likely than men to have atypical symptoms of a heart attack: shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, extreme fatigue, a cold sweat, or pain in the arms, back, neck, or stomach, Baechler says. Get these, and any of the more traditional symptoms, checked out.
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Shortness Of Breath Causes
Both health and environmental issues can be associated with breathing difficulties and shortness of breath. Common environmental factors include dust and allergens, stress, high altitudes, and stuffy noses or blocked air passages.
Aside from these common environmental factors, there are also conditions of the lung and the heart that can cause shortness of breath. These conditions require treatment in order to return your breathing patterns to normal. The treatment of shortness of breath will depend on the underlying cause.
What Are The Causes Of Muscle Weakness
Muscle weakness is commonly due to lack of exercise, ageing, muscle injury or pregnancy. It can also occur with long-term conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. There are many other possible causes, which include stroke, multiple sclerosis, depression, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome .
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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a progressive inflammation of the lungs that makes breathing difficult. It is caused by long-term exposure to irritating gases and/or dust particles, most often cigarette smoke.
Symptoms may take years to develop. They include a chronic cough with mucus , wheezing, chest tightness, fatigue, constant colds, swollen ankles, and cyanosis Depression is often a factor due to reduced quality of life.
Treatment is important because there is a greater risk of heart disease and lung cancer in COPD patients. Though the condition cannot be cured, it can be managed to reduce risks and allow good quality of life.
COPD is commonly misdiagnosed and so careful testing is done. Diagnosis is made through patient history physical examination lung function tests blood tests and chest x-ray or CT scan.
Treatment involves quitting smoking and avoiding exposure to other lung irritants use of inhalers to ease symptoms steroids lung therapies and getting influenza and pneumonia vaccines as recommended.
Top Symptoms: fatigue, cough and dyspnea related to smoking, cough, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping
Symptoms that always occur with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease : cough and dyspnea related to smoking
Symptoms that never occur with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease : rectal bleeding
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Why Am I Short Of Breath
On this page, we explain the different causes that can make you feel breathless.
Breathlessness is a symptom. There are many possible underlying causes. But the main causes are:
There are other reasons too.
If you get breathless on a regular basis, you might have been diagnosed with one of these causes. Often theres more than one. And others can develop over time. If you notice changes in your breathing, tell your doctor. Conditions that cause long-term breathlessness can often be treated to some extent, but some cannot be fully reversed. Its important to learn how to manage long-term breathlessness, so that you can live as well as possible with it.
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Get Worse With Activity And Improve With Rest
Myasthenia gravis can affect any of the muscles that you control voluntarily. It can affect muscles of the face, hands, eyes, arms and legs and those muscles involved in chewing, swallowing and talking. Muscles that control breathing and neck movement also can be affected.
MG does not affect involuntary muscles such as the heart, smooth muscles of the gut, blood vessels, and uterus.
The hallmark of weakness related to MG is that is worsens with sustained activity of the involved muscle. Eye muscle weakness worsens with reading, and double vision may improve with a brief rest. When speech is affected, symptoms worsen with prolonged talking. Extremity weakness if often noticed when holding arms over the head. Drooping of the eyelids, neck weakness and other symptoms are usually worse at the end of the day.
What Is Shortness Of Breath
Breathing is a vital bodily function that ensures every cell you have has enough oxygen to survive and that toxic carbon dioxide is removed. Effective breathing requires healthy lungs to perform gas exchange, as well as the functional activity of a number of different muscle groups that enable air to be drawn into and expelled from the lungs. This process largely occurs passively but can also be consciously controlled. Any problem with this process can cause shortness of breath which be the sign of a serious problem and may require immediate medical attention.
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Being Unfit Or Having An Unhealthy Weight
When we are unfit, our muscles get weaker. This includes the muscles we use to breathe. Weaker muscles need more oxygen to work, so the weaker our muscles, the more breathless we feel. Its really important to keep active so you can manage your breathlessness better.
Being an unhealthy weight can also contribute to make us feel breathless.
- If youre underweight, your breathing muscles will be weaker.
- If youre overweight, it takes more effort to breathe and move around. Having more weight around the chest and stomach restricts how much your lungs can move. If you have a body mass index of 25 or more, youre more likely to get breathless compared to people with a healthy weight.
People who are severely overweight can develop obesity hypoventilation syndrome. This is when poor breathing leads to lower oxygen levels and higher carbon dioxide levels in their blood.
Maintaining a healthy weight may help you to manage your breathlessness better and be more active. Read more about eating well for healthier lungs.
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Around Half Of Patients Discharged From Hospital For Covid Still Suffer From At Least One Persistent Symptom
Fatigue and shortness of breath still afflict many patients a year after their hospitalisation for Covid-19, according to a new Chinese study calling for a better understanding of the pandemics long-term health effects.
Around half of patients discharged from hospital for Covid still suffer from at least one persistent symptom most often fatigue or muscle weakness after 12 months, said the study published in British medical journal The Lancet Friday.
The research, the largest yet on the condition known as long Covid, added that one in three patients still have shortness of breath a year after their diagnosis.
That number is even higher in patients hit more severely by the illness.
With no proven treatments or even rehabilitation guidance, long Covid affects peoples ability to resume normal life and their capacity to work, The Lancet said in an editorial published with the study.
The study shows that for many patients, full recovery from Covid-19 will take more than 1 year.
The study followed nearly 1,300 people hospitalised for Covid between January and May 2020 in the central Chinese city of Wuhan the first place affected by a pandemic that has since infected 214 million people worldwide, killing more than 4 million.
The share of observed patients with at least one symptom decreased from 68 percent after six months to 49 percent after 12 months.
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Conditions Of Muscle Inflammation
Inflammatory diseases of muscle typically affect older adults and include conditions such as polymyalgia rheumatica , polymyositis and dermatomyositis. Some of these conditions respond well to steroids . Unfortunately, as explained above, steroids also cause muscle wasting and weakness.
Conditions of generalised tissue inflammation such as systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis can cause muscle weakness. In a small proportion of cases of rheumatoid arthritis, muscle weakness and tiredness may be the only sign of the disease for some considerable time.
Unexpected Irregular Vaginal Bleeding
Irregular bleeding, especially if its accompanied by pain during sex, could signal a serious condition like cervical cancer or uterine cancer. If your menstrual period becomes unusually heavy or irregular, occurs more often than every three weeks, or you have spotting between periods, get these symptoms checked out.
Discuss any post-menopausal spotting with your doctor. Even a little bit of bleeding after menopause is abnormal, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Some of the common causes are polyps and either atrophy or thickening of the endometrium the lining of your uterus.
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Iii: Anxietyhead Games And Shortness Of Breath
Maybe you feel so stressed that its obvious that the stress is squeezing the breath out of you or maybe its not. If youre not sure, its time to ask yourself some hard questions: could that be me? Could I be choking myself? Almost literally? Dont underestimate this possibility.
Anxiety excessive worry, either too much, or too long, or both13 is a surprisingly potent and amazingly common cause of many odd symptoms. Shortness of breath and chest pain are among the most frequently reported.
Although its common, anxiety is badly neglected as an explanation for many problems. Even though its almost the same thing as stress, many people dont recognize that they are anxious, or they deny it or minimize it. And many people just dont know that shortness of breath can be caused by anxiety! It really can.
Theres no clear explanation for how anxiety causes shortness of breath, chest pain, or any other strange symptom: its just one of those things. And while anxiety can cause shortness of breath as a direct and immediate symptom, it can also probably cause trouble indirectly by chronically eating away at us in other ways, like creating the dysfunctional breathing pattern discussed above.
Preparing For Your Appointment
To prepare for your appointment, see the topicMaking the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:
- What is your major symptom, weakness or fatigue?
- Have you had these symptoms before? If so:
- Did you see a doctor for an evaluation of your symptoms?
- What was the diagnosis?
- How were your symptoms treated?
While you are waiting for your appointment, it may be helpful to keep a diary of your symptoms .
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The Quality Of The Sensation And What It Might Mean
Many things contribute to a sensation of shortness of breath,7 and the symptom breaks down into three messily overlapping qualities, which are interesting but dont tell us much about whats going on, just a couple rough clues:
- Effort: a sensation of excessive work or effort to breathe, like breathing is just a slog. It is loosely associated with impairment of the muscular function and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease .
- Tightness: feeling tight may involve actual contstriction of airways as would occur in the early stages of an asthma attack . However, tightness can also be caused by actual spasticity of respiratory muscles, which could be ordinary muscle pain or more serious, like the infamous squeezing hug of multiple sclerosis.
- Air hunger: the most complex sensation, unsatisfied inspiration is described by patients in many ways, like starved for air or my breaths feel too small. Of the treatable causes, it is most clearly associated with anxiety. Although it sure doesnt feel like it, it can occur without any actual loss of respiratory capacity.
Warning Signs Of A Heart Attack
Not all heart attacks are alike
Did you know that you can have a heart attack without feeling any chest pain? Heart failure and heart disease dont show the same signs for everyone, especially women.
The heart is a muscle that contracts to pump blood throughout the body. A heart attack occurs when the heart muscle doesnt get enough blood. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle. When there isnt enough blood flowing to your heart muscle, the affected part can get damaged or die. This is dangerous and sometimes deadly.
Heart attacks happen suddenly, but they normally result from long-standing heart disease. Typically, a waxy plaque builds up on the walls inside your blood vessels that feed the heart muscle. Sometimes a chunk of the plaque, called a blood clot, breaks off and prevents blood from passing through the vessel to your heart muscle, resulting in a heart attack.
Less commonly, something like stress, physical exertion, or cold weather causes the blood vessel to contract or spasm, which decreases the amount of blood that can get to your heart muscle.
There are many risk factors that contribute to having a heart attack, including:
A heart attack is a medical emergency. Its really important to listen to what your body is telling you if you think you might be having one. Its better to seek emergency medical treatment and be wrong than to not get help when youre having a heart attack.
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Muscle Damage Through Injury
There are many ways in which your muscles can be directly damaged. The most obvious is injury or trauma such as sporting injuries, pulls and sprains. In any muscle injury, bleeding from damaged muscle fibres occurs inside the muscle, followed by swelling and inflammation. This makes the muscle less strong and also painful to use. Localised pain is the primary symptom but weakness also results.
What Is Microvascular Angina
Angina is any chest pain that occurs when your heart muscle doesnt get enough blood to meet its work demand, a condition called ischemia.
The most common source of angina is obstructive coronary disease, which happens when one of the hearts arteries is blocked. People with this type of angina might feel chest pain during exercise or exertion if not enough blood is supplied to the working heart muscle.
But according to the American Heart Association, up to 50 percent of women with angina symptoms dont have a blocked artery. In fact, they may not even have chest pain, though they may have other symptoms.
They may feel severely short of breath. They might feel extreme fatigue, which rest doesnt make better. They may have pain with exertion in their back, jaw or arm with no chest pain. They might have nausea and indigestion, says Michos.
These women should be evaluated for microvascular angina. Microvascular angina can occur when the hearts tiniest arteries are not able to supply enough oxygen-rich blood due to spasm or cellular dysfunction.
It can be difficult to diagnose microvascular angina because an angiogram a specialized X-ray of the heart wont show obstruction or blockages in these tiny arteries, and symptoms like nausea and indigestion mimic other illnesses. Often, your doctor will perform a stress test to monitor the hearts function during exercise to make a diagnosis.
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