When your elder loved one experiences pain in the chest, it is always a cause for concern. The elderly are at far greater risk for experiencing a myocardial infarction (MI) or heart attack, so getting a diagnosis and treatment at the first onset is critical. Although chest pain is often associated with a heart issue, there may be a variety of reasons why your loved one is experiencing pain in the chest. Chest pains can also be a sign of lung, bone, muscle, nerve or gastrointestinal trouble.
Nightingale Homecare, a trusted provider of home health in Scottsdale, offers the following helpful information to help you understand the causes of chest pain, and how to help your senior loved one best describe what he or she is feeling in order to get the appropriate help.
Some more common causes of chest pain that do involve the heart:
- Heart attack
- Coronary artery disease
- Myocarditis: inflammation of the middle heart wall
- Endocarditis: inflammation of the lining surrounding the heart
Some other causes of chest pain that do not involve the heart include:
- Gastric reflux, heartburn or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
- Pleruitis – inflammation of the lung lining
- Hiatal hernia
- Stomach ulcer
- Gallbladder issues
- Muscle strain
- Fractured ribs
- Anxiety or stress
The most important thing to consider while narrowing down the cause of chest pain is to pay attention to the quality, intensity, duration and location of the pain along with other accompanying symptoms. Pain presents in a variety of ways; sometimes it’s described as crushing, burning, stabbing, dull, etc. Often pain will radiate from one localized site to another. Other symptoms may accompany chest pain, such as shortness of breath, sweating or nausea. All of these signs can help your loved one’s health practitioner determine the cause of the pain.
Often, the pain experienced from gastric reflux is mistaken for a heart attack, also called myocardial infarction. It is important to track your loved one’s symptoms and get immediate medical attention to get a correct diagnosis.
Some differences between heartburn and heart pain include:
- Heartburn is usually a burning chest pain while heart pain is generally a crushing chest pain.
- Heart pain is usually accompanied by difficulty breathing, sweating, dizziness and fainting.
- Heartburn brings on a sour taste in the mouth and is often relieved by antacids, while ischemic heart pain is eased by nitrate medication.
- Heart pain tends to radiate down the left arm, to the neck, jaw or abdomen.
- Heart pain can be brought on by physical activity and psychological stress, while heartburn worsens after eating.
Your loved one may not react to pain in a typical way, and it is best not to try to diagnose, but to seek immediate professional medical advice and treatment armed with pain and symptom tracking.
For more tips on keeping your senior loved ones safe and healthy, or to learn more about how our home health care services can improve quality of life for seniors, contact Nightingale Homecare’s team of experts in home health for Scottsdale and the surrounding area at (602) 504-1555.