Chest Pain Awareness

Posted by Dr. Robert Kelly


Picture of farmer with his sheep

Chest pain may be an early warning of an impending heart attack, especially if it feels like a weight on the chest and the person has other symptoms such as difficulty breathing, sweating, sickness, fatigue and racing heart beat. RIsks for heart disease include smoking, obesity, cholesterol, lack of exercise, diabetes and a family history of heart disease make heart attacks more common. VIrtually all of these factors can be eliminated thereby lowering risk of heart attack.

Sadly many people dismiss /ignore their symptoms or justify them as being minor or insignificant and assume that they will go away. Many wait months before going to see a doctor and therein expose themselves to potential increased risk for acute cardiac events, like heart attacks, strokes and even sudden cardiac death.

I am reminded of a few farmers who have attended as patients, several with symptoms of over 1 year in duration…yet asking them how do they treat their farm animals all will say ” doctor I know what to do if sheep or horse or cow is not right, and if I have any worries I can call the vet”…. On many occasions I have suggested that some of the farmers should think of themselves as sheep / horse / cow.

LIke all medical illnesses, the earlier you detect , the better chance a patient will get to access treatment and potential cure.

In USA two thirds of patients do not visit doctor when they develop cardiac symptoms. Reasons for this include male machismo, time, poor priority of health. Men are more at fault than women.

Often the trigger for going to a doctor will be that a friend or relative dies or persuades people to refer themselves to doctor. Spouses, women are often the best opportunity to encourage men to take their health more seriously.

The reasons why people do not place greater priority on their health or place greater emphasis on health prevention are unclear. Local factors such as access to services, waiting times, cost of care and health insurance, information, poorly coordinated services are some reasons.

Health awareness and prevention, especially heart health warrants better individual attention and proactive engagement and conversation between patients, providers and all stakeholders..