Does Simultaneous Chest and Back Pain Indicate a Heart Attack?

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Chest pain and back pain, particularly when the back pain is in the upper part of the body, can indicate a heart attack, notes the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, breaking out into a cold sweat, lightheadedness, nausea and dizziness.

Women may experience heart attacks differently than men, explains WebMD. While chest pain is still the most common symptom, it may be felt as squeezing or a sense of fullness. Women are also more likely to experience fatigue, stomach pain often dismissed as heartburn, sweating, difficulty breathing, and pain in the neck or jaw.

Men over the age of 45 and women over the age of 55 are at greatest risk for heart attacks, according to Mayo Clinic. Other risk factors include smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke over time, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. A family history of heart attack or cardiovascular disease, a history of diabetes or autoimmune disease, a sedentary or high-stress lifestyle, and obesity also predispose individuals to heart attacks.

Most heart attacks occur when coronary arteries become blocked by fatty plaque or by a blood clots, notes Mayo Clinic. Other causes include coronary artery spasms due to illicit drug use or tobacco use and spontaneous tears in the coronary arteries.