Video transcription

Hi, I'm Dr. Margaret Collins-Hill with Consults in Hypertension in Wilmington, North Carolina. The question this evening is about the symptoms of heart blockage. What I think we're getting at here is the symptoms of heart attack. Heart attack is what happens when blood flow to the heart is interrupted. When the heart does not get enough blood flow, it screams for oxygen and that leads to chest pain. Chest pain can vary in the way it feels. Most people describe it as a pressure like an elephant sitting on the chest or a vice grip around the chest. Others describe it as heartburn or a toothache or even a burning. In general you can be fairly certain that you are not having heart attack pain if it's sharp stabbing needle like and if it doesn't change when you rest. The reason that chest pain occurs when you are walking is that the heart needs more blood flow. The heart takes every bit of oxygen out of the blood that flows through it and when the heart rate increased when you exercise you need more. When the vessels are narrowed from atherosclerosis the blood flow can't increase enough to meet the demands of the heart muscle and that's when chest pain happens. If you are having chest pain that occurs when you're walking or climbing stairs or running and especially if it's accompanied by any pain in the jaw, the neck, the arm or shortness of breath, nausea, sweating or becoming pale you definitely should get in touch with your doctor and see whether this pain might be coming from your heart. Fortunately not all chest pain is from the heart. There are a number of people who have quite intense pain from reflux or from spasms of the esophagus or even from injuries of the chest wall. So if you think you're having symptoms of heart blockage, see your doctor.