Jaw pain and heart attack

Jaw pain can be a symptom of heart attack. Don’t miss the subtle signs of heart attack, including pain in the jaw, neck and back.

There are several signs of heart attack in women that may go unnoticed. These “silent heart attack” signs include jaw pain, left arm pain and upper back pain. Because signs of heart attack can be different for women than men, it’s important to know how what the symptoms are and how to recognize them.

Sometimes we think heart attack symptoms are sudden crushing chest pains, accompanied by sweating and nausea. While these symptoms are fairly typical and always quite concerning, there are other, less-obvious signs of heart attack, especially in women.

“Often patients, particularly women, will experience pain in the shoulder, arms, neck and jaw, or parts of the upper back, including between the shoulder blades,” said Robert T. Rogers, APRN, nurse practitioner with Norton Heart & Vascular Institute Heart Rhythm Center. “While it may seem like pain in these areas is not related to the heart, it actually is quite common for these symptoms to occur during heart attacks.”

Up 40% of women will not experience any chest discomfort at all during a heart attack.

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According to Robert, women often report referred pain in the shoulders, arms, neck or jaw when experiencing a heart attack.

Symptoms of heart attack in women include:

  • Shoulder/arm pain

This may feel like tingling, pins-and-needles, a dull ache, weakness, heaviness or a crushing feeling. Patients might not describe it as “pain,” rather as discomfort. Shoulder or arm pain during a heart attack can come and go, and present before and during a cardiac arrest.

  • Jaw pain

Jaw pain during a heart attack can feel like aching or general discomfort in the area. It is cause for concern in the context of other symptoms, such as nausea or other pain.

  • Neck pain

During a heart attack the diaphragm can become irritated and refer pain to the neck, as well as the upper back and shoulders.

  • Back pain

Similarly to neck pain, back pain before or during a heart attack is referred pain from a buildup of pressure around the heart. Patients also may feel pressure on the back.

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