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What Is the Connection between Jaw Pain and a Heart Attack?

Jaw pain is one of the symptoms of a heart attack.
The anatomy of a heart attack.
Article Details
  • Written By: H. Lo
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 27 March 2014
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Jaw pain is one symptom of a heart attack. The jaw is made up of two main parts, the mandible and the maxilla. The mandible is the lower part of the jaw and is able to move, while the maxilla is the upper part of the jaw and does not move. Usually, if a heart attack radiates jaw pain, it involves the lower jaw.

Another way to look at the relationship between jaw pain and a heart attack is that chest pain is the connection. When a person has a heart attack, he or she might suffer different signs and symptoms, one of them being chest pain. This pain does not always stay in the chest, however, and it can move around, affecting a person’s jaw and teeth as well as abdomen, arms, back, and neck.

A heart attack usually takes place when a coronary artery is blocked, keeping blood and oxygen from reaching the heart. When this happens, the heart muscle becomes injured. Chest pain then occurs as a reaction to this injury. Blood flow needs to be restored quickly or the muscle will sustain permanent damage and can even die. Scar tissue eventually replaces the muscle if it does indeed die.

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Chest and jaw pain are not the only symptoms associated with a heart attack, and it is important for people to know that experiencing either symptom does not necessarily mean a heart attack is happening or that the symptoms are even connected. For example, it is possible to experience chest pain that is not associated with a heart attack. Those who do experience symptoms of the medical condition, though, might have symptoms including heartburn, nausea or vomiting.

In some instances, a person might not suffer at all from heart attack symptoms in what is referred to as a silent heart attack. Women more than men suffer silent heart attacks and atypical symptoms. This makes the condition harder to diagnose.

Some symptoms might be severe and highly indicative of a heart attack, but others can be mild. For example, the connection between jaw pain and a heart attack might not be as immediately apparent as the one between severe chest pain and a heart attack. If a person suspects that he is having a heart attack, he should seek immediate medical attention.

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