What type of arm pain is associated with a heart attack?

Updated February 21, 2017

Signs of a heart attack often present themselves throughout the left arm and left side of the body. Both sexes experience this symptom but it occurs more often in females.


Arm pain during a heart attack (myocardial infarction) typically extends from the chest into the jaw, left arm or left shoulder. The discomfort may develop slowly as an ache or become more severe with radiating sharpness.


Shooting pain may extend the entire length of the extremity. "Sometimes, pain is felt in the wrists or in fingers," says Dr. Tareneh Razavi, an in-house physician with a major Internet search provider.


Since the heart is situated on the left of the chest, the right arm and right side rarely suffer such effects. Additional heart attack symptoms may include difficulty breathing, nausea, dizziness, or vomiting.


Women regularly experience chest discomfort but may be more prone to arm pain associated with a heart attack than males. "Women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms," says The American Heart Association.


Doctors suggest erring on the side of caution when determining whether chest pain is a heart problem or indigestion. "The pain of a heart attack can feel like bad heartburn," according to The American Academy of Family Physicians.

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About the Author

Mark Bingaman has entertained and informed listeners as a radio personality and director of programming at stations across the U.S. A recognized expert in the integration of broadcast media with new media, he served as associate editor and director of Internet development for two industry trade publications, "Radio Ink" and "Streaming Magazine." Today, he heads the International Social Media Chamber of Commerce.