Experiencing either pain or a tingling sensation in the left arm makes most people think they are about to suffer a heart attack. However, this is rarely the case, even if you have some medical history of minor heart problems such as arrhythmia, palpitations, extrasystoles etc. In order to distinguish harmless sensations of pain and tingling in the left arm from a cardiovascular event, it is important to know what the symptoms of a heart attack are.
Pain in left hand and heart attack
When does pain in the left hand mean a heart attack? Heart attacks are medical events of great concern and require the immediate attention of a trained physician. While investigating persistent pain, numbing or tingling sensations in your left arm is advisable and will offer you great relief, know that heart attacks are not that common, even among individuals with some heart disease history. Still, how do you know if you are having a heart attack?
Heart attack signs and symptoms
Here are 4 telling signs and symptoms you may be experiencing a heart attack:
- Persistent and deep pain in the left side of the chest extending towards the arm.
- The pain does not change when moving or changing body position. If you notice an improvement when standing or gently massaging your chest or arm, then it’s most likely a muscle causing the pain.
- Pain gets worse with increased physical activity.
- It is accompanied by other telling symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, possible sweating or nausea, wheezing and even fainting. If you are experiencing similar symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as possible!
Individuals with severe heart problems and especially those having suffered a previous heart attack are most at risk of experiencing another. High stress levels, poor diet and bad lifestyle habits can also increase heart attack risks in those individuals already diagnosed with heart disease. But for the most part, heart disease sufferers who are under medical supervision and are taking their prescribed medication as well as enjoying a good diet and calm lifestyle have low heart attack risks themselves, unless in a risky category.
Where am I going with this? Even if you are not leading the healthiest lifestyle, you are still highly unlikely to suffer a heart attack. So what is it with the pain, numbing, tingling sensations in the left arm? Find out below what are 5 very probable causes for experiencing pain in your left arm.
What causes pain in left arm?
Exposing your arm to cold by wearing inappropriate clothes or staying in drafty rooms can restrict blood flow to the area and result in poor circulation, loss of sensitivity, tingling sensations and muscle pain. Poor circulation is worsened by medicine use which is why you always need to read the medicine information leaflets for possible side effects that may cause similar side effects.
Lack of movement
As funny as it may sound, we sometimes forget to change the position of our arm or forearm and this may result in either muscle pain or numbing, then tingling sensations that may end up worrying us. Some people like to sleep with their forearm under their head and may wake up after several hours feeling stiff, numbed or with unbearable tingling or needle-like sensations. Resting your chin or head in the palm of your hand while at the computer can have similar effects. Lack of movement for long periods of time as well as strain put on the arm affect blood circulation.
Psychological and emotional problems may cause arm stiffness, muscle pain and symptoms similar to those of a heart attack. Panic attacks or anxiety disorders, for instance, can lead to stress accumulating and result in chest and arm pain sensations, racing heartbeat, stiff muscles, even shortness of breath. Various relaxation techniques such as meditation can teach one to manage stress levels and keep symptoms under control.
Mitral valve prolapse
This is a form of heart disease characterized by the displacement of a mitral valve leaflet into the left atrium (a chamber of the heart) during systole (contraction). This is a fairly rare form of heart disease (around 2% of the world population) which may result in left arm pain. Fortunately, in many cases, it can be managed by proper diet and does not necessarily lead to any complications.
Poor dietary mineral intake
A low magnesium intake, for example, can result in muscle cramps, spasms and pain that can manifest in your legs, arms or chest and thus be easily confused with more serious health problems. Despite not posing serious health problems in the beginning, any vitamin or mineral deficiency should be dealt with quickly to avoid possible health complications in the future. As for magnesium, if you are experiencing symptoms of a deficiency and looking to correct the deficiency with supplements, find out the difference between magnesium forms and which to choose.
Overall, if you experience left arm pain, tingling or numbing sensations, keep calm and assess the situation keeping in mind all of the above. In 90% of cases, it is due to poor blood circulation, muscle cramps, poor intake of dietary minerals, cold or straining the arm in an uncomfortable position. A chat with your doctor or cardiologist, followed by an EKG (or ECK) or electrocardiogram test will serve to put your mind at ease concerning any form of pain in the left arm.