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What does the arm pain during a heart attack feel like>?

On Health & Drugs & Medications » Heart Diseases

7,653 words with 10 Comments; publish: Tue, 18 Dec 2007 22:24:00 GMT; (90078.13, « »)

Like, where is it? Is it on the underneath side of the arm, on the top? Is it on the forearm or the upperarm? Is it a numbness? a sharp pain?

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  • 10 Comments
    • I heard it was numbness by a few people who have had it. Others have said it felt like someone was sitting on their chest. I guess it can be different for everyone.
      #1; Tue, 18 Dec 2007 21:05:00 GMT
    • Like, where is it? Is it on the underneath side of the arm, on the top? Is it on the forearm or the upperarm? Is it a numbness? a sharp pain?

      I had had a myocardiac infarction (heart attack) and experienced no pain. Wasn't aware until the lungs became congested.

      The question on pain, etc. relates to angina (pain due to lack of blood flow to the heart) and the experience can vary from chest pain (sharp , dull), pain can radiate to the arms, neck and jaw. Angina usually subsides with rest if exertion brought it on, but if the angina results in heart muscle damage there may be nausea, sweating and breathing problems. Numbness of limbs is more likely due to a stroke.

      #2; Tue, 18 Dec 2007 21:06:00 GMT
    • I had a near-fatal heart attack in 1974 (blocked RCA).

      For almost a week prior to the attack, I had agonizing pain in my left shoulder. The pain would radiate from shoulder to my elbow on the inside of my left arm. I couldn't sleep, so I spent the nights wondering what was happening to me. There was no chest pain.

      Went to my doctor for an EKG, which showed nothing out of line. I then went to an orthopaedist to see if something had gone wrong with my shoulder. He found a few arthritic spurs, and said that if my heart had been exonerated, it must be the arthritis. But I wasn't convinced that my heart had been cleared.

      About 2 a.m. the next morning, I had the conventional symptoms of a heart attack: severe chest pain (for the first time), cold sweat, nausea, weakness, irregular pulse. I still waited till the next morning and had my wife drive me to my primary doctor, who immediately put me in ICU at the hospital. I had a long and rough recovery, and was left with severe angina which always showed up in my left shoulder. I was also left with an ejection fraction of about 35 - 40%.

      Then seven years later, in 1981 I finally had bypass surgery by a team of very skillful surgeons. They performed six bypasses, and the end result was like a miracle to me. No more angina. I could exercise to my heart's content (pun intentional).

      It's now 26 years past the bypass surgery and at least four of the bypasses are still open. In my later years, I've been plagued by atrial fibrillation. It's not fun, but is controlled by medicine. But there's been very little angina, even this many years past the bypass surgery.

      The point is that my "early" warning before my heart attack came solely from the severe shoulder pain.

      Sorry for the long dissertation. I've lived with heart problems now for 33 years, and if I have anginal pain, it still shows up in that left shoulder.

      Regards,

      Bill

      #3; Tue, 18 Dec 2007 21:07:00 GMT
    • Hi Bill,

      Three years ago my EF was below 29% (heart failure range) due to heart cell damage...an ischemic heart attack. It is possible I could have avoided heart cell damage if there had been a pain warning or something other than heart failure. However, a recent echo indicates an EF 60%.

      The heart muscle damage from the MI was at the distal portion of the heart, and it appears medication and a stent has provided enough blood to the damaged cells, and now the impairment is of less significance.

      Do you live with 35-40% EF?

      #4; Tue, 18 Dec 2007 21:08:00 GMT
    • Hi Bill,

      Three years ago my EF was below 29% (heart failure range) due to heart cell damage...an ischemic heart attack. It is possible I could have avoided heart cell damage if there had been a pain warning or something other than heart failure. However, a recent echo indicates an EF 60%.

      The heart muscle damage from the MI was at the distal portion of the heart, and it appears medication and a stent has provided enough blood to the damaged cells, and now the impairment is of less significance.

      Do you live with 35-40% EF?

      Kenkeith:

      Right now I'm living with an EF of 25%. Afib is giving me such an irregular heartbeat that it has lowered my EF to 25% (measured from ultrasound). For a number of years Sotalol has kept me nicely in normal sinus rhythm. But it is not doing a very effective job right now.

      The cardiologist and I are going to meet to see what changes in medication are indicated. Surprisingly, an EF of 25% leaves me operating reasonably normally, but I do much better at 35%.

      I'll let you know what happens. I was doing quite well with physical tasks and exercise until afib reared its ugly head again.

      Regards,

      Bill

      #5; Tue, 18 Dec 2007 21:09:00 GMT
    • There is an estimate of 24% of the heart disorder population that have an EF below 29% and don't even realize there is a medical problem as their system is compensating well for the failing heart.

      I don't have a rhythm problem, but it seems that is almost an eventuality for a heart-failing patient!?

      .

      #6; Tue, 18 Dec 2007 21:10:00 GMT
    • It is a feeling that is very hard for me to describe. The worst pain in my arm was during a heart attack, but I have experienced it with bouts of angina since then. It is a dull ache that can involve most of the left arm, but not the left hand.

      It might feel like you pulled ALL of the muscles in your arm 4 or 5 days ago, and are feeling a dull ache from the incident. I wish I could do better in describing it.

      It is really the very same pain as you feel in your chest when you have angina. It just radiates down the left arm and is not as intense as the pain in your chest most of the time.

      P.S. Your heart, like some other organs, can cause "referred pain". Instead of the heart muscle itself hurting it can cause pain in your arm, jaw, shoulder or back. This is due to the type of nerves serving the heart.

      #7; Tue, 18 Dec 2007 21:11:00 GMT
    • My best description:

      Try to imagine having heartburn in your upper arm.

      I know that sounds a bit nuts, but it will make sense to anyone who's experienced it. :D

      #8; Tue, 18 Dec 2007 21:12:00 GMT
    • My best description:

      Try to imagine having heartburn in your upper arm.

      I know that sounds a bit nuts, but it will make sense to anyone who's experienced it. :D

      Pain, discomfort covers a wide spectrum of pain (subjective) and,or discomfort. Referring specifically to the question of arm pain during a heart attack as the poster asks, the emission spectrum of pain that radiates to the arm is wavelike and there is a variation in its intensity (sharp or dull).

      #9; Tue, 18 Dec 2007 21:13:00 GMT
    • Hi Bill!

      I was researching some facts about pain in the left arm when I read your post about the pain you experienced in your left arm. About a week ago I experienced severe pain in my left arm that radiated literally down my entire left arm. It was worse as I tried to move in certain positions. I ended up making an appointment with an Orthopaedist, who said it is most likely shoulder tendonitis based on the physical exam and the pain I was describing. I was given a Cortisone injection and anti-inflammatory medication. The pain has almost subsided but I keep asking myself if that was indeed the pain I experienced.

      I have some questions for you:

      1. Did the pain you experienced before your actual heart attack continue on until the heart attack or did the arm pain stop at any point?

      2. Was the pain you experienced continuous or more on and off pain and did it cause tingling and numbness?

      Any input you can give me is much appreciated.

      #10; Tue, 18 Dec 2007 21:14:00 GMT