When blood flow to your heart is significantly or completely blocked, you’re having a heart attack.
Two symptoms that are common in heart attacks are:
- Chest pain. This is sometimes described as a stabbing pain, or a feeling of tightness, pressure, or squeezing.
- Jaw pain. This is sometimes described as feeling like a bad toothache.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, women have jaw pain that’s often specific to the lower left side of the jaw.
If you have persistent chest pain, the Mayo Clinic recommends seeking emergency medical help, especially if the persistent pain is accompanied by:
- pain (or a sensation of pressure or tightness) spreading to your neck, jaw, or back
- heart rhythm changes, such as pounding
- abdominal pain
- cold sweat
- shortness of breath
A silent heart attack, or silent myocardial infarction (SMI), doesn’t have symptoms with the same intensity as a standard heart attack.
According to Harvard Medical School, the symptoms of SMIs can be so mild that they’re not thought of as problematic and may be ignored.
SMI symptoms may be brief and mild, and can include:
- pressure or pain in the center of your chest
- discomfort in areas, such as your jaw, neck, arms, back, or stomach
- shortness of breath
- cold sweat
If you’re experiencing chest pain, you could be having a heart attack. However, there are other conditions that mimic heart attack symptoms.
According to The Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, you could be experiencing:
- unstable angina
- stable angina
- broken heart syndrome
- esophageal spasm
- GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disease)
- pulmonary embolism
- aortic dissection
- musculoskeletal pain
- a psychological disorder, such as anxiety, panic, depression, emotional stress
Always seek emergency medical treatment if you suspect a heart attack
Just because it may not be a heart attack, you should still seek emergency medical treatment. Not only can some of the above conditions be life-threatening, but you should also never ignore or dismiss symptoms of a potentially fatal heart attack.
If you’re experiencing jaw pain by itself, there are a number of explanations other than heart attack. Your jaw pain could be a symptom of:
- neuralgia (irritated nerve)
- coronary artery disease (CAD)
- temporal arteritis (from chewing)
- temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
- Bruxism (grinding your teeth)
If you’re experiencing jaw pain, discuss your symptoms and treatment options with your healthcare provider.
The signs of a heart attack, such as chest and jaw pain, are different from the signs of a stroke. According to the
- sudden weakness or numbness that’s often on one side of the body, and often in the face, arm, or leg
- sudden confusion
- sudden difficulty speaking or understanding someone else speaking
- sudden vision problems (one or both eyes)
- sudden unexplained severe headache
- sudden loss of balance, lack of coordination, or dizziness
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, or someone else is experiencing them, seek immediate emergency medical help.
Symptoms of a heart attack may include chest and jaw pain.
If you’re experiencing them, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re having a heart attack. However, you should still seek emergency medical treatment.
It’s always better to get emergency care that you might not have needed than it is to ignore, or not take seriously, the signs of a potential heart attack.