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"Can one have a small heart attack?"

ZocdocAnswersCan one have a small heart attack?


I'm an older man, and a few weeks ago I had an alarming experience. I had chest pain and shortness of breath, and I had to lie down for a while. It passed, but now I'm wondering if it was my heart. You can't have a ?little? heart attack, can you?


Chest pain can be an a very alarming experience and should ALWAYS prompt you to present to either the emergency department at the nearest hospital or at least call your primary care physician to describe your symptoms and give you instructions on what to do. The combination of chest pain and shortness of breath makes my suspicion of a possible heart attack higher. Chest pain that is heart in origin can be divided into these categories: 1. Stable Angina (squeezing or pressure like chest pain with exertion that goes away with rest), 2. Unstable Angina (chest pain that comes on at rest), 3. And two more or myocardial infarction (MI) also known as a heart attack. All 3 of them cause accompanying shortness of breath and are signs of a heart attack or warning signs that one is coming. Heart attacks are caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart. If the blockage is in a small vessel, this can result in a "little" heart attack. If the blockage is in a large vessel, it can result in a large or massive heart attack which often is fatal. Even if you haven't had symptoms for the past 3 weeks, your doctor may be able to tell with an electrocardiogram if you did in fact have a heart attack. He or she can also order blood tests and possibly a stress test to further evaluate the blood flow to the heart. See your doctor very very soon.

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