Q: I have an extensive history of heart problems in my family. My dad died at 50 with a heart attack. I have been having some chest pain and am worried about it. What should I do?

A: This is a good topic considering that February is almost here and it is Heart Month. Chest pain with coronary heart disease is called angina. It occurs when blood vessels that supply the heart become narrowed and stress on the heart causes it to hurt because it is not getting enough blood. Chest pain or pressure are the most common symptoms of angina, but other symptoms can include pain in the back, neck, jaw, upper belly, or in one or both shoulders or arms. Some patients may experience shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, weakness or fast or irregular heartbeat. Women are more likely than men to have unusual symptoms like shortness of breath, nausea, back or jaw pain. It can be dangerous. That is why it is important to pay attention. If you feel a change or increase in the usual pain, it may be an emergency and may mean you are having a heart attack. I would strongly suggest getting in to see a doctor to evaluate this pain and determine the proper medical treatment.

Dr. Rick Casey

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