Heart attack or fibro pain: how to tell the difference…

Fibromyalgia can be a scary condition to live with. But while it can’t kill you in a few seconds, a heart attack can. And fibromyalgia can cause symptoms that are very similar to a heart attack. That’s why fibromyalgia sufferers need to know when their symptoms are a heart attack or fibro pain. Here’s how to tell the difference.

What is fibromyalgia chest pain?

Fibromyalgia causes a kind of generalized pain in certain areas of your body. But there is also a specific condition associated with fibromyalgia that affects your chest in particular. It is called Costochondritis and causes localized pain around your ribs.

Costochondritis is the result of an inflammation of the cartilage around your ribcage. This causes a stabbing or aching pain in your chest that is easily confused with the chest pain associated with a heart attack. But while a heart attack is often fatal and can cause permanent heart damage, costochondritis cannot.

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack occurs when one of the coronary arteries that allow blood to flow from your heart to rest of your body is blocked. Blood transports oxygen around your body. And your cells need oxygen to live. The lack of blood flowing from your heart to the brain after a heart attack causes you to lose consciousness and can cause your cells to die.

So unless you receive help quickly after a heart attack, it can kill you or cause permanent damage to your heart or brain.

Heart attack or fibro pain?

A heart attack causes symptoms that are similar to costochondritis. The symptoms include a general pain in the chest that comes in waves. This is also a symptom in costochondritis, which can make sufferers believe they are having a heart attack.

The easiest way to tell if your chest pain is a heart attack or fibro pain is to touch your chest where you feel pain. Costochondritis results in swelling tissue around your ribs, so they will be sore to the touch. Because a heart attack is not a physical pain in your tissue, but in the arteries in your heart, your chest will not hurt more when you touch it.

Costochondritis chest pain also lasts far longer than a heart attack.Typically, a heart attack is an acute condition, while costochondritis is a chronic condition that can last for weeks.

Heart attack

But there are also symptoms that a heart attack causes that costochondritis does not. A heart attack causes radiating waves of pain that are localized in your left arm. And in addition, someone having a heart attack will often feel nauseous and break out in a cold sweat.  Finally, someone having a heart attack will often experience shortness of breath.

The best way to tell if you’re having a heart attack or fibro pain is to check the symptoms in your head. If you have at least three of the symptoms of a heart attack, that’s probably what it is.

What should you do if you think you’re having a heart attack?

If you begin to feel like you are having these symptoms, immediately call an ambulance. Minutes will make the difference between life and death when it comes to a heart attack, so act quickly and err on the side of caution. Try to call someone you know to watch you until the ambulance arrives. A heart attack can easily make you pass out and it is best to have someone nearby to look after you and talk to the paramedics when they arrive.

Always remember that the most important thing to do is to take a possible heart attack seriously. Pay close attention to your symptoms to decide if you’re having a heart attack or fibro pain. And if you think your fibromyalgia pain may actually be a heart attack, treat it like one. That can make the difference between life and death.

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