Left Side Chest pain in Women
Left side chest pain in women may indicate something serious. There are many underlying factors which trigger this to happen such as heart, lung, muscles or esophagus problems in the body. If the chest pain disappears and does not comeback it could only be gas or heartburn that caused the pain, in which case, there is nothing to worry about. But if the left side chest pain is associated with the heart, this could be angina or heart attack.
Left Side Chest Pain in Women: Heart Attack and Angina
Heart attack can manifest as a left side chest pain in women. It is a coronary heart disease that can be fatal. Heart attack or myocardial infarction (MI) can occur when the flow of blood to the coronary arteries of the heart is blocked causing a decrease in blood flow resulting in lack of oxygen supply to the heart muscle. This will in effect cause damage and destruction to the heart.
Angina can also cause left side chest pain in women. It is basically a symptom of coronary artery disease. Coronary arteries are the blood vessels that supply oxygenated blood to the heart .When they become narrow there is an imbalance between the demand and amount of oxygen of blood that is carried to the heart producing chest pain such as angina. The difference between angina chest pain and heart attack is that angina only partially blocks the coronary arteries unlike heart attack where the arteries are totally blocked. The blockage is caused by plaque or fatty materials in the body which stiffens and narrows the coronary arteries and as a result the flow of oxygen to heart muscle is reduced causing chest pain. When plaque starts to build up on the inner walls of the coronary arteries it could rupture and produce a blood clot which can totally block the arteries leading to a heart attack.
Another type of heart disease is coronary microvascular disease which affects the smallest coronary arteries of the heart. Angina can also be a symptom of this kind of heart disease. Microvascular disease (MVD) does not always develop arterial blockages to the heart. This type of heart disease affects mostly women.
Left side chest pain in women particularly angina has various types such as stable, unstable, microvascular and variant or Pinnzmetal’s
• Stable angina, the most common type, occurs when the heart pumps harder during exercise and disappears while body is at rest after a few minutes or after medication. This does not signify a heart attack but rather a symptom of an eventual heart attack in the future.
• Unstable angina is a left side chest pain in women that occurs with or without any physical activity that cannot be reduced with rest or medication. This signifies that a heart attack can happen at any moment. Unstable angina is potentially dangerous.
• Microvascular angina, a type of left side chest pain in women that is more severe and lasts longer compared with other angina chest pains. This is a symptom of a microvascular disease which cannot be relieved by medications.
• Variant or Prinzmetal’s angina is rare type of left side chest pain in women that usually occurs in younger individuals. It is caused by a sudden tightening of muscles in the arterial wall of the coronary artery resulting in the narrowing of the artery which causes reduced flow of blood to the heart.
Causes of Left Side Chest Pain in Women
Left side chest pain in women associated with heart attack is basically caused by coronary artery disease or coronary heart disease. This is due to the buildup of cholesterol and blood clot in the coronary arteries, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, obesity, use of caffeine, premenopausal and postmenopausal phase.
Left side chest pain in women associated with angina is caused by narrowing, spasm or partial blockage of coronary artery in the heart due to a blood clot or cholesterol build up within the artery. Exercise, emotional stress and unstable heart rhythm trigger angina.
Symptoms of Left Side Chest Pain in Women
Left side chest pain in women associated with heart attack occurs in the middle left part of the chest and can extend to the left side of the body particularly in the left shoulder and arm. There are also stomach, back, neck and jaw pain. Other symptoms may persist such as difficulty in breathing, vomiting, sweating, heartburn, fatigue and dizziness.
Symptoms with the left side chest pain in women associated with angina are the same with heart attack but it normally occurs during strenuous activities. The symptoms can also happen when the body is at rest; and when it is not relieved by medication, this could be a sign of imminent heart attack.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Left Side Chest Pain in Women
Heart attack and angina are diagnosed with the same technique procedures performed by a doctor such as identifying the symptoms, use of electrocardiogram (ECG) and measuring the enzymes that are produced by the cells of the heart muscles which can be traced by blood testing known as cardiac enzymes. In angina, test may indicate no actual damage to the heart which is based in the cardiac enzymes test. However, ECG for angina may show some abnormalities but nevertheless this can still be reversed. Stress test can also be used to diagnose angina. This diagnostic procedure monitors the ECG during exercise. Cardiac catheterization is another method used for angina which is a type of x-ray that utilizes harmless dye to emphasize blockages in different abnormalities in the arteries.
Treatment for left side chest pain in women associated with heart attack can be done through non-surgical procedures which include medications such as heparin, aspirin and clot busting (thrombolytic) drugs. If medications fail to work, surgical procedure is required which can be angioplasty or coronary artery bypass surgery. Angioplasty is a technique which surgically repairs or widens the narrowed coronary artery. Coronary artery bypass surgery is a procedure of grafting arteries from other parts of the body to the coronary arteries to bypass the narrowed coronary arteries to improve oxygenated blood flow to the heart muscle.
Angina treatment, meanwhile, includes medications such as nitroglycerin. It is used to dilate the coronary arteries. Angina attack should be closely monitored to avoid the risk of coronary heart disease. Read about right side chest pain in women