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What does it mean when you have pain in the chest and arm?

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Quick Answer

Pain that occurs in the chest and radiates to the arm can be a sign of coronary artery disease or a myocardial infarction, according to WebMD. Chest pain is called angina, and this is one of many heart-related symptoms that can manifest when there is an issue with the cardiovascular system.

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Full Answer

Coronary artery disease develops as the result of plaque buildup that forms in coronary arteries, causing an obstruction that restricts blood flow to the heart. This blockage leads to chest pain that spreads to arms, jaw, neck, and shoulders, notes Cleveland Clinic. Other symptoms include feeling nauseous, breathing difficulties and irregular heart palpitations. Although the symptoms can be similar to a heart attack, they last only a few minutes and get better with medication after a short time.

In the case of a heart attack or a myocardial infarction, the same symptoms that are present in coronary artery disease can occur, but the chest pain may radiate to the left arm first and spread to shoulder and neck area. The pain can also affect both arms. Heart attacks symptoms can also last longer than five minutes and are not alleviated with medication, notes Cleveland Clinic. In these cases, immediate emergency care is necessary.

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