Cardiovascular pathology is a leader among diseases of both young people and older people.
Heart disease is getting younger every year, and the World Health Organization notes with concern that heart attacks have begun to affect people at a young age.
To prevent the development of cardiac pathologies, stabbing pain in the region of the heart must be properly qualified.
Causes of pain and its symptoms
In most cases, the onset of pain is associated with a pathology of the heart and blood vessels. The heart performs the most difficult and laborious work, even at rest it maintains normal blood circulation, the level of blood pressure in the human body. It is because of its high load that the heart and blood vessels are the most susceptible organs to various adverse factors.
Unhealthy diet, excess weight, coffee abuse, alcoholism and tobacco smoking – all these factors lead to dysfunction of the organ, which signals heart attacks.
Consider the most common causes of a sharp stabbing pain behind the sternum in the heart.
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Coronary spasm is a sharp narrowing of the lumen of the vessels of the same name. It occurs most often in the morning or at night, and can affect people of any age. Most often, coronary spasm occurs against the background of atherosclerosis of the arteries, and the area of narrowing of the lumen of the vessel is localized near the atherosclerotic plaque.
As a result of spasm, blood supply to the heart muscle is sharply reduced, as a result of which myocardial ischemia is observed. The condition can be triggered by physical or mental stress against the background of absolute health, when stabbed suddenly and without any precursors.
The symptoms of coronary spasm are as follows:
- the appearance of sudden pain behind the sternum, radiating to the scapula or arm,
- increased heart rate,
- patients are very sick,
- dizziness appears, sweating increases,
- heartbeat quickens
- blanching of the skin,
- there is a lack of oxygen,
- with a prolonged attack, a panic state increases.
Usually, the spasm of the coronary vessels does not last long, but even after the onset of short-term attacks, it is necessary to consult a doctor and examine the heart.
Myocardial ischemia attack
Usually, an ischemic attack occurs against the background of increased physical activity, as a result of which the heart requires more oxygen consumption than usual. If the blood vessels are pathologically altered, then they do not provide the required blood volume and the heart suffers from ischemia – oxygen deficiency.
The result is a sharp stabbing pain in the heart area, as well as:
- increased heart rate
- cold hands and feet,
- the appearance of cold sweat on the forehead,
- feeling short of breath.
The appearance of myocardial ischemia, when it stabs in the left side of the chest, is an alarming signal that the heart does not receive enough oxygen, and any increased load on the organ can provoke a severe heart attack and aggravate the situation. Recently, doctors have registered such ischemia in children. The next stage of heart damage is myocardial infarction.
One of the most severe lesions of the heart muscle is a heart attack. In fact, a heart attack is a necrosis of the heart muscle cells, which die when the oxygen supplied by the blood is insufficient. There are many immediate causes of a heart attack – stress, atherosclerosis, and vascular thrombosis.
With the development of a heart attack, the patient develops characteristic symptoms, but the patient cannot always distinguish them from ordinary cardiac colic and the situation becomes more complicated.
The signs of a heart attack are as follows:
- colic in the region of the heart, behind the breastbone, which are not eliminated even by taking nitroglycerin,
- a feeling of severe pain not only in the heart, but in the area of the scapula, neck, arm,
- the appearance and growth of panic, fear,
- a sharp drop in blood pressure,
- cardiac arrhythmia.
Myocardial infarction is very insidious – in some patients, the pathology acquires an atypical course. Instead of heart pains, it becomes difficult for patients to breathe, sharp abdominal pains may occur, dizziness is observed and the left hand becomes numb. Only a doctor can recognize a pathology, but already at the initial stage, a heart attack test can be carried out to suspect the development of pathology.
With myocardial infarction, you can not hesitate – the longer ischemia in the heart muscle lasts, the more cells will undergo necrosis. This means that the cardiomyocytes of the affected area will not restore their functional activity, but instead a connective tissue area will appear that does not perform the function of the heart muscle.
Inflammation of the pericardium is not so common, but this pathology gives atypical symptoms of cardiac pathology. The heart muscle becomes inflamed as a result of the introduction of a viral or bacterial infection by the hematogenous route, and aseptic pericarditis is also recorded.
The symptoms of pericarditis are as follows:
- heart colic
- shortness of breath
- chills and fever,
- sharp pain on inhalation,
- swelling of the face
- pronounced cervical veins.
When such signs occur, the main threat to the patient is compression of the heart by the edematous pericardium, therefore, medical attention is urgently needed.
Cardiomyopathies are usually hereditary pathologies that can be detected already at the first pathological changes in the heart muscle, even in a child. The essence of the change in the muscle is its thickening, as a result of which the volume of the heart chamber is significantly reduced.
Most often the left ventricle is affected, which leads to a violation of the heart rhythm and the appearance of heart failure.
Patients complain of general weakness, dizzy, shortness of breath, drowsiness, and fainting may occur. If left untreated, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is fatal.
Osteochondrosis and intercostal neuralgia
A sharp pain in the heart area for several seconds can be provoked not only by problems with the main “pump”, but also by pathologies of the spine. With osteochondrosis and intercostal neuralgia, the symptoms of diseases are difficult to distinguish from heart pains – patients also grab the heart, complain that it hurts to breathe, give in to panic because of the attack.
The main problem of such pain lies outside the heart and is located in the spinal column. Deformations of various kinds in the spine and pinching of the intercostal nerves extending from the spinal column and along the ribs, often provoke the symptoms of a heart attack.
To distinguish pathology, it is necessary to notice the following features:
- the occurrence of unpleasant painful sensations coincides with the respiratory movements, felt when exhaling and when inhaling,
- the pain is not relieved by heart means.
If these two signs are present, it makes no sense to drink heart medications – it is best to use analgesics and go to a doctor’s consultation.
It also happens that the heart hurts when you take a deep breath. This usually happens against a background of pneumothorax caused by severe pulmonary pathology.
Pneumothorax is an accumulation of air in the pleural space due to damage to the lung tissue. Patients note that it is especially painful when you breathe deeply, so they spare themselves, try to breathe shallowly so as not to provoke seizures. It is possible to determine pneumothorax and provide first aid only in the clinic, therefore, hospitalization is indicated for such patients.
First aid for heart pain
For the relief of heart pain, especially when it occurs for the first time, it is almost impossible to provide help at home. For this reason, others should call an ambulance. You can take a nitroglycerin tablet under the tongue on your own. This drug promotes the expansion of coronary vessels and with vasospasm, ischemia and other pathological conditions can be salutary in an emergency.
If Nitroglycerin is not at hand, you can take Corvalment or Corvalol. With tolerable heart pain, 20-25 drops are shown, with severe attacks, the drug is increased to 45 drops, but no more. With intense, persistent pain, you can give the patient an Aspirin tablet, but not drink it with water, but chew it so that the active ingredient enters the bloodstream as quickly as possible. Aspirin has a thinning effect, therefore, with a possible heart attack, the volume of damage to the heart muscle will be significantly less.
Upon the arrival of an ambulance, it is necessary to notify the doctors which drugs, when and in what amount were given to the patient. Further treatment is prescribed after a thorough examination of the heart. In most cases, the treatment is conservative, but in difficult cases of atherosclerotic vascular lesions and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, surgery is possible.
The appearance of a stabbing pain in the heart region should not be ignored. This is the first alarming sign of the appearance of problems with blood vessels and heart, therefore, it is necessary to diagnose the disease as early as possible. Timely assistance for cardiac pathology will avoid disability and death.