When experiencing a heart attack, chest pain may not be the only indication that something is wrong. Some may even experience pain in the lower jaw or teeth. The significance of jaw pain and heart attacks can not be dismissed because this may be the only warning sign in some patients.
Jaw Pain and Heart Attacks Overview
The signs and symptoms of a heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction can differ quite significantly between patients. Although commonly associated with chest pain and tightness, this pain can radiate to other areas of the body. This can include the arm, neck, and sometimes even areas of the back. However, the pain felt when experiencing a heart attack may also be noted in the jaw. Most commonly this type of pain is felt in the lower jaw and even in the teeth for some people.
Possible Causes and Indications
Jaw pain associated with a heart attack may have many possible causes. However, the main reason behind this phenomenon is typically the decreased blood flow to the heart for a prolonged period of time. The pain often radiates and sometimes, isn’t even felt in the chest at all. Although this is possible with other disorders, the jaw pain and tightness experienced during a heart attack is somewhat different. For starters, it typically lasts for more than a few minutes and may or may not be characterized by other signs and symptoms associated with a heart attack.
What Kind of Jaw Pain May Be Experienced?
As with other signs and symptoms of any disease or disorder, each patient may experience these things differently. The same is true of those suffering from jaw pain during a heart attack. One of the most common complaints though, tends to be a tightening of the jaw, but others have reported a dull, achy pain that compares with a toothache.
What About Jaw Pain during a Heart Attack in Women?
Although chest pain is often a chief complaint for those suffering from a heart attack, this isn’t entirely true with women. As a matter of fact, women are more likely than men to present with other signs and symptoms, including jaw pain. According to the American Heart Association, they are also more likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea and/or vomiting and back pain.
Jaw pain and heart attacks do not only apply to women, but to certain other groups of individuals as well. According to Cedars-Senai Research and Education, one out of every three heart attack victims does not suffer from acute chest pain. This includes the elderly (those over the age of 75), non-Caucasian individuals, those who have diabetes, those suffering from heart failure or have previously suffered from a stroke. Like the other signs and symptoms, jaw pain should not be ignored and immediate medical attention should be sought.
Heart Problems and Treatments. Ohio State University Medical Center. 18, June 2008. Viewed 18, October 2010. http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/PatientEd/Materials/PDFDocs/dis-cond/cardio/heart-problems-treatments.pdf
Heart Attack/Myocardial Infarction. Cedars-Senai. 2010. Viewed 18, October 2010. http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Health-Conditions/Heart-Attack-l-Myocardial-Infarction.aspx
Heart Attack Symptoms and Warning Signs. American Heart Association. 2010. Viewed 18, October 2010. http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4595