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Heart Disease: Why Does Pain Sensation Differ?

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Dr. Kahlon describes where a woman with heart disease might experience pain and explains why one person will have pain in their neck while another will have pain in their arm. Holding his Board Certification in Echocardiography, Dr. Kahlon Co-Chairs Tri-City’s Department of Echocardiography and treats patients at Banner Heart Hospital in Mesa, Arizona.

Dr. Kahlon:
This is a very common question that I hear is that, “When I am having heart disease why is my right side hurting and you say I have heart disease and I have a family member who had pain on the left side and they have heart disease and then I have another friend who never had pain in either chest and had pain in his neck and is having heart disease?”

So it’s very confusing for women to understand that why this pain can be at different places and could still be the symptom of same disease and we need to take a step back and understand how our body feels pain.

The pain on surface of body is very easily localized by our nervous system. So if I close my eyes and if somebody touches me at certain place or if it hurts I can pinpoint and tell you that my finger’s hurting, my arm’s hurting, my neck’s hurting and usually that’s where you are touching, but when there is inflammation inside your body the pain does not directly correspond with the location of the injury. It corresponds with the location of the nerve that supplies that organ.

So that nerves which supply our heart also tend to supply our esophagus, upper part of our stomach, and this, we use the word ‘dermatome’. This have the equivalent of skin manifestation of the same nerve and the same dermatome supplies left arm.

So what does that mean? That means that if you are having pain in your chest it could be your heart; it could be your esophagus; it could be your upper stomach or it could be your lung lining because they all share the same nerve supply and they also happen to share the nerve supply of the left arm and neck and jaw area.

So that’s why all those areas could be the referred pain from your actual heart disease and it’s not a direct one-to-one relationship like we see with the surface pains. So that’s why the location of pain, though important, is not the most important determinant if you are having heart disease. It is what brings on the pain is more determinate of what is the cause of that pain.

About Dr. Jaskamal Kahlon, M.D.:
Dr. Jaskamal Kahlon is Board Certified in Cardiovascular Diseases, Echocardiography, Interventional Cardiology and Internal Medicine. He completed his Fellowship in Cardiovascular Medicine and Internal Medicine Residency at the St. John Hospital and Medical Center, Fellowship in Interventional Cardiology at Emory University and his Residency in Cardiology.

Conditions: Heart Disease, Coronary Artery Disease, Valvular Heart Disease, Cardiovascular Disease, Cardiomyopathy, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, Heart Attack

Related Terms: Artherosclerotic Stenosis, Arrhythmia, Red Rice Yeast, Statin Therapy, Hypertension, Hip to Waist Ration, Arterial Blockage, Plaque, Blod Clot,
Chest Tightness, Shortness of Breath, Stent, EKG, Heart Bypass Surgery

Expert: Dr. Jaskamal P. S. Kahlon, Jaskamal P S Kahlon, M.D., Heart Expert Dr. Kahlon, Cardiologist, Internist

Expertise: Peripheral Artery Disease, Heart Disease Risks, Heart Disease Management, Cardiac Metabolic Syndrome, Heart Disease Prevention, Blood Pressure Testing, Cholesterol Testing, Robotic Catheter Ablation, Coronary Artery Disease, Interventional Cardiology, Echocardiography, Arrhythmia

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