What Is the Connection between Jaw Pain and a Heart Attack?

Jaw pain is one of the symptoms of a heart attack.
It is a common misconception that pain from a heart attack is only felt in the chest.
The anatomy of a heart attack.
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  • Written By: H. Lo
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 03 September 2014
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Jaw pain is one symptom of a heart attack. The jaw is made up of two main parts, the mandible and the maxilla. The mandible is the lower part of the jaw and is able to move, while the maxilla is the upper part of the jaw and does not move. Usually, if a heart attack radiates jaw pain, it involves the lower jaw.

Another way to look at the relationship between jaw pain and a heart attack is that chest pain is the connection. When a person has a heart attack, he or she might suffer different signs and symptoms, one of them being chest pain. This pain does not always stay in the chest, however, and it can move around, affecting a person’s jaw and teeth as well as abdomen, arms, back, and neck.

A heart attack usually takes place when a coronary artery is blocked, keeping blood and oxygen from reaching the heart. When this happens, the heart muscle becomes injured. Chest pain then occurs as a reaction to this injury. Blood flow needs to be restored quickly or the muscle will sustain permanent damage and can even die. Scar tissue eventually replaces the muscle if it does indeed die.

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Chest and jaw pain are not the only symptoms associated with a heart attack, and it is important for people to know that experiencing either symptom does not necessarily mean a heart attack is happening or that the symptoms are even connected. For example, it is possible to experience chest pain that is not associated with a heart attack. Those who do experience symptoms of the medical condition, though, might have symptoms including heartburn, nausea or vomiting.

In some instances, a person might not suffer at all from heart attack symptoms in what is referred to as a silent heart attack. Women more than men suffer silent heart attacks and atypical symptoms. This makes the condition harder to diagnose.

Some symptoms might be severe and highly indicative of a heart attack, but others can be mild. For example, the connection between jaw pain and a heart attack might not be as immediately apparent as the one between severe chest pain and a heart attack. If a person suspects that he is having a heart attack, he should seek immediate medical attention.

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Discuss this Article

candyquilt
Post 6

Although jaw pain and chest pain occur during a heart attack. Jaw pain can happen to anyone with dental or oral problems. Even anxiety and issues like teeth grinding can cause it. If there isn't an obvious cause to the jaw pain such as these, and if the jaw pain doesn't go away, it's a good idea to see a doctor.

Especially those with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease in general need to be careful about this symptom.

bluedolphin
Post 5

@bear78-- The other commenters have given good information on this.

All I want to add is that the symptoms of a heart attack can be different in each person. Some people don't even suffer from any symptoms. Others have multiple symptoms such as chest pain, arm pain and jaw pain.

I'm not a doctor but since jaw pain due to a heart attack can't originate in the jaw, I think there will be pain somewhere else too. Pain may occur in the neck or shoulder, in the chest or in the arm. Jaw pain is basically pain that is occurring at the chest but that's radiating to nearby areas. Our nerves are connected with one another, so this is not surprising.

bear78
Post 4

Is jaw pain a very common symptom of a heart attack? Can it occur without the other symptoms and still point towards a heart attack? Or is it usually seen with the other symptoms?

croydon
Post 3

@Ana1234 - That would be the fault of the medical system though. A mild heart attack often has symptoms so mild that you might hardly notice them.

My grandmother had a mild stroke and brushed off the symptoms. But if you can have a mild one that means you can potentially have a major one, and that's why it's so important to follow up on these sorts of things.

Not to mention that a minor heart attack will probably damage parts of your heart or cardiovascular system and that needs to be monitored. If you've got any kind of risk for this sort of thing, you should already be getting regular checks, but even if you don't think you do, I would follow up on suspicious symptoms. Young people end up having heart attacks all the time. They aren't just the province of older people.

Ana1234
Post 2

@irontoenail - With that said, the most common heart attack symptom is always going to be chest pain. I get jaw pain all the time, because I tend to tense my jaw when I'm stressed and it can actually be quite alarming if I don't notice I've been doing it.

But if I went to the doctor and simply told them I had pain in my jaw, they'd give me pain killers and that's about it.

irontoenail
Post 1

Jaw pain is more commonly associated with women having a heart attack then men, and unfortunately it's not known as a symptom the way that other signs like arm pain and chest pain are. Women are less likely than men in general to even have a heart attack, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen regularly. It's really important for people to learn about all the symptoms, for men and women so that they can react appropriately. The more quickly someone is helped, the better their chances of survival.

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