Buttock or leg pain could be a strong ‘predictor’ of a heart attack

Buttock or leg pain could be a strong ‘predictor’ of a heart attack

Heart attacks are acute events that are rarely preceded by obvious warning signs, but symptoms can sometimes appear hours or weeks before a cardiac event. Most health authorities advise that you look out for signs of shortness of breath, shoulder pain or chest discomfort. According to one study, leg pain can also be an important signal of an impending heart attack.

Body pain can reflect different types of vascular disease depending on where in the body it occurs.

When it affects only the lower limbs, for example, it can mean problems with blood flow due to peripheral artery disease.

However, it is important to note that leg pain is not a symptom of a heart attack, but it can be a sign of heart disease.

In a study published in 2019 JAMA Cardiology found that about five percent of people with PAD experience a heart attack within 30 months.

READ MORE: A man, 62, had a heart attack without even knowing it – the signs

The study identified two types of heart attack, with type 1 myocardial infarction caused by acute thrombotic coronary events.

Type 2 myocardial infarction, on the other hand, usually follows an acute imbalance between oxygen supply and demand.

The report states: “Advanced limb symptoms appear to be a stronger predictor of type 2 myocardial infarction than type 1 myocardial infarction.

“Myocardial infarction in patients with PAD was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular death and […] events requiring hospitalization.”


In the initial stages of PAD, symptoms may be rare, and most complications occur exclusively during exercise and stop at rest.

The Cleveland Clinic explains: “The first symptoms of PAD are usually pain, cramps, or discomfort in the legs or buttocks (intermittent claudication.

“This happens when you’re active and goes away when you’re resting.”

However, as the condition progresses, claudication may become apparent at night, when the body is completely relaxed.

READ MORE: People who have survived a heart attack admit that they ate the same meal a few hours before

This is a sign that the blockage of the arteries prevents blood flow to the extremities and deprives the limbs of oxygen.

It should be noted that PAD develops over decades, sometimes taking 50 years or more for symptoms to appear.

Signs of PAB also represent a spectrum of disease severity, with some cases occurring asymptotically.

In fact, about 20 to 50 percent of patients diagnosed with the condition are asymptomatic, despite showing signs of severe disease when tested.

“As the disease progresses and the blood vessels narrow, the arterial flow in the lower extremities deteriorates, and the symptoms can manifest either as classic intermittent claudication or as atypical claudication or discomfort in the legs,” he explains. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

It added: “Intermittent claudication is defined as discomfort in the lower extremities that is caused by exertion but does not consistently resolve after rest.”

The more advanced the disease, the greater the chance someone will develop severe claudication, which could reduce their walking distance and cause pain at rest.

End-stage PAD—clinically called critical limb ischemia—is defined as pain at rest lasting more than 14 days, ulceration, or gangrenous tissue.

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