An expert from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics joins KCRG-TV9 to host a live chat about how to decipher chest pain and see if it warrants immediate medical attention.
3rd & 7 37yd
3rd & 7 37yd
Welcome to our Live Chat page with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. We will have a live chat on March 5th at 2 p.m. talking about how to decipher chest pain. Feel free to use the box above to submit a question ahead of time.
by max.walker3/2/2015 9:23:54 PM
Thanks for joining us! Today we welcome Phillip A. Horwitz, M.D., the Executive Director of the University of Iowa Heart and Vascular Center, Director of the Clinical Cardiovascular Service, and a Clinical Professor of Medicine to this live chat about chest pain.
by KCRG-TV93/5/2015 8:00:27 PM
Let's get to our first question.
by KCRG-TV93/5/2015 8:01:02 PM
When there is chest pain, is there usually another symptom at the same time, i.e., numbness in the arm, shortness of breath, or can there just be chest pain?
by Samantha Smith3/5/2015 8:01:08 PM
Samantha- Most people with chest pain due to heart disease will have pain accompanied by other problems like breathing difficulties, sweating, feeling sick to the stomach etc. Does this answer your question?
by Phillip Horwitz, MD3/5/2015 8:03:10 PM
Yes -- thank you for clarifying that.
by Samantha Smith3/5/2015 8:03:59 PM
Doctor: My husband and I argue constantly about when you should call 911 when you have chest pain. He is a construction worker and when he really exerts himself he gets chest pain that goes away when he stops. Is it his heart? Should he see a doctor? And when should I call an ambulance?
by Vanessa Corbin3/5/2015 8:04:21 PM
Vanessa- This type of pain that comes on when someone is very active could be due to disease of the heart arteries. While these episodes are not always emergencies, your husband should see his physican or a cardiologist about the problem. We tell our patients to call 911 if the pain is more severe than before, if it does not go away quickly or is occuring with less or no activity.
by Phillip Horwitz, MD3/5/2015 8:07:19 PM
What is the best way to prepare yourself to NOT have heart related issues?
by Luke3/5/2015 8:08:22 PM
Luke- The best ways to avoid developing heart disease are to have a healthy lifestyle- avoid smoking, exercise regularly, watch your weight and work with your doctors to control your blood pressure and cholesterol.
by Phillip Horwitz, MD edited by KCRG-TV93/5/2015 8:11:07 PM
We live about 25 minutes from the closest hospital. When there is chest pain, how much time do we have before there is irreparable damage?
by Jeanne Goodline3/5/2015 8:12:46 PM
Jeanne- This depends on the cause of the chest pain but the sooner the better. In the most serious situation, with a large heart attack caused by a blocked heart artery, we try to open the artery as fast as possible. The first hour or two of a heart attack can be the most important time.
by Phillip Horwitz, MD3/5/2015 8:15:54 PM
How can you tell if you're just having heartburn, or a legitimate heart problem? Does it feel different?
by BB edited by KCRG-TV93/5/2015 8:16:29 PM
BB- This can be very difficult. Pain due to "heartburn" or reflux disease can be hard to distinguish from heart related problems. Chest pain that occurs during exercise may be more likely to be from the heart. Pain that occurs after certain foods and that improves with antacids may be more likely to be non-heart related. Sometimes testing for one or the other problem is required to tell the difference.
by Phillip Horwitz, MD3/5/2015 8:20:02 PM
My wife had a left bundle branch blockage show up on EKG. Do we assume it was caused by a mild heart attack or could there be other causes?
by Milt Lynncrest3/5/2015 8:21:36 PM
Milt- A left bundle branch block is a problem with part of the heart's electrical system. This can be seen after a heart attack but there are many other causes such as age-related slowing of the electrical system, weakening of the heart muscle from any cause, as a result of heart surgery or we can see it with no other obvious cause. Many people will have no symptoms from this but others may require further heart testing.
by Phillip Horwitz, MD3/5/2015 8:26:21 PM
If I'm with someone who is having chest pain, is it better to try to get them to an emergency room myself or to call for assistance?
by Janet3/5/2015 8:26:49 PM
Janet- Always call for an ambulance in this situation. Help is available much faster that way. You do not want to risk having someone becoming much sicker in the car on the way to the emergency room.
by Phillip Horwitz, MD3/5/2015 8:28:53 PM
For as long as I can remember I've gotten a pain in my jaw (it's happened on both sides) but never done anything and I've never had a heart attack -- how do I know when this really is a pain I need to have checked out? It usually only lasts a couple hours and then is gone. You can't run to the doctor/hospital every time you have a pain and I know with women it isn't always in the chest, but it's hard to figure out when that feeling of indigestion really isn't what you think.
by Carol C. edited by KCRG-TV93/5/2015 8:30:56 PM
Carol- Good question. Jaw pain can be a sign of heart problem. Typical heart pain will be in the chest and can extend to the neck or jaw. This usually occurs with activity and improves with rest. This type of pain called "angina" typically lasts for only a few minutes after someone rests. If you have had pain like this for a long time, you should discuss it with your physician.
by Phillip Horwitz, MD3/5/2015 8:34:41 PM
I've heard that women experience heart attacks with different symptoms than men. Can you give some differences?
by Lynn Melrose3/5/2015 8:35:07 PM
Lynn- This is true. Women are more likely than men to experience "atypical" symptoms with a heart attack. Shortness of breath without chest pain, sweating, upset stomach or nausea are some examples.
by Phillip Horwitz, MD3/5/2015 8:36:54 PM
I have a pacemaker, will chest pain be different for me if I'm having a heart attack?
by Liz Lundquist3/5/2015 8:37:42 PM
Liz- Usually not. The pain most people experience with a heart attack will be similar whether they have a pacemaker or not.
by Phillip Horwitz, MD3/5/2015 8:39:12 PM
When I was in the ER with chest pains they asked me questions about whether I was physically active at the time or not. What's the difference between pain when active and inactive?
by Karl Hensleigh edited by KCRG-TV93/5/2015 8:39:55 PM
Karl- Chest pain due to blocked heart arteries can be worsened by physical activity. This is one of the ways doctors try to distinguish between heart and non-heart related pain. However, in a heart attack, pain can occur without being physically active. Response to physical activity is not the only consideration in making sure that someone's pain is not heart related.
by Phillip Horwitz, MD3/5/2015 8:43:28 PM
If heart disease runs in your family will an active life style along with a good diet help you avoid having a problem? Or are you bound to have a problem regardless?
by Don3/5/2015 8:44:32 PM
Don- Your genes are only part of what determines your risk of developing heart problems. While a family history of heart problems does increase your risk, other factors such as exercise, weight, diet, smoking, blood pressure control and cholesterol management may be just as important.
by Phillip Horwitz, MD3/5/2015 8:46:28 PM
Does the pain from angina feel differently than the pain from a heart attack?
by Norman Shumway3/5/2015 8:47:15 PM
Norman- There are two basic kinds of problems that people with heart artery blockages can have. Stable angina is due to a long-standing blockage of one or more of the heart arteries. People with this problem usually have chest pain and other symptoms with activity or stress that improves with rest. A second type of type of heart artery problem is what cardiologists call an acute coronary syndrome. This is caused by a blood clot that suddenly forms in the heart arteries and affects the blood flow. Heart attacks and what is called "unstable angina" are types of acute coronary syndromes. Does this answer your question?
by Phillip Horwitz, MD3/5/2015 8:52:33 PM
How long would you recommend I wait to call my doctor/911 if I am experiencing mild chest pain?
by Emily Evans3/5/2015 8:53:25 PM
Emily- A little hard to answer without more detail. In general, if you have chest pain without another obvious cause that does not improve after several minutes of rest, you should seek medical attention.
by Phillip Horwitz, MD3/5/2015 8:56:00 PM
Can certain prescription medications cause chest pain?
by Darryl Dake3/5/2015 8:57:01 PM
Darryl- some medications can irritate the stomach or the esophagus and cause chest pain. Aspirin, ibuprofen and supplements like potassium are frequent culprits. Most prescription medications do not cause chest pain and, if you are experiencing pain, you should approach your doctor about it.