Jaw Pain: Can Signal a Heart Attack
A dull, vague pain on the lower left side of your jaw should never be ignored. This pain increases and decreases over the course of a few minutes. In addition, it moves around so you cant quite pinpoint exactly where it bothers you. Known as referred pain, this sensation occurs when the nerves surrounding the heart become agitated, sending pain through the nerves in the spine to other locations in the body, specifically the left jaw, shoulder and arm.
Below, the "When to Worry Scale" can help you understand the difference between benign jaw pain such as TMJ, a sinus infection or a toothache, and serious jaw pain associated with a heart attack.
Green Zone: Lowest Risk
If moving your jaw around (such as while chewing) increases the pain, its likely the discomfort has nothing to do with your heart.
Yellow Zone: Medium Risk
Jaw pain that happens in the morning can be an instance of referred pain and serves as a warning sign that youre at risk for a heart attack. Your blood is thicker at this time of the day, which causes blood pressure to surge, increasing heart attack risk.
Red Zone: The Highest Risk
Pain brought on by physical activity can manifest in several areas including the chest, jaw, left arm and shoulder, a scenario that typically indicates youre having a heart attack. Shortness of breath, a common heart attack symptom in women, may also occur. You may also get additional classic heart attack signs such as dizziness or nausea. In this case, see a doctor immediately.