I’ve said it before and will continue to harp on it.
As healthcare professionals this is something we really need to be able to pick up on, which isn’t always easy to do.
If someone is having a heart attack, they really don’t want to admit it. Their mortality is staring them in the face at this point and realizing that something major is going on isn’t an easy thing to face, in fact most people will completely deny the possibility they are having a heart attack.
That day my dad didn’t want to admit things might be worse.
It would have been fatal if things has progressed anymore on the drive to the hospital. Thankfully he didn’t drive off the road when he lost the use of his arms.
We need to realize the differences in pain to understand whether someone is having a heart attack, indigestion or if something muscular is going on.
If you are going through your typical assessment before a treatment and your patient is having brief chest pain as a result of bending or breathing deep, it’s probably not a heart attack.
Some even feel that it is, or starts as indigestion. However, if it is a heart attack it will continually get stronger over time.
If someone is having a heart attack I have heard it described as “an elephant sitting on my chest”.
While writing this post, I called my dad to ask what the pain was like. He said:
“It felt like someone drove a sword through my chest, pain down both arms and through to the back, it was ten times worse than having any kind of indigestion”
The pain can range from mild to a description of squeezing, or tightness and constricting to a crushing feeling in the chest.
If one of your patients is having chest pain and it lasts longer than ten minutes, it’s time to get them some help.