Q:

What can cause pain to shoot down the left arm to the hand?

A:

Quick Answer

Pain that radiates out through the left arm, chest, back, neck and jaw is likely a symptom of a heart attack, according to Harvard Health Publications from Harvard Medical School. Pain caused by a heart attack is rarely localized around the heart area and the chest.

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Full Answer

Heart attack symptoms vary depending on the individual, states Mayo Clinic. Pain may be mild or severe and can occur hours or weeks before an attack occurs. The symptoms often indicate warning of a heart attack such as with angina, which occurs when the heart does not get enough oxygen or blood flow. Angina is usually triggered by periods of exercise or heavy activity.

Pain, pressure, squeezing or tightness accompanied by other symptoms such as cold sweats, nausea or difficulty breathing are signs of a heart attack, explains Mayo Clinic. It is critical to act fast when symptoms of a heart attack occur. Seek immediate medical attention by calling 911 or have someone drive you to the nearest hospital. Take nitroglycerin if it was prescribed by a doctor; aspirin can also help by thinning the blood to keep it from clotting and resulting in additional heart damage. Aspirin may interact with other medications and should be taken only if recommended by a doctor.

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