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Journal of Oral & Facial Pain and Headache



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J Orofac Pain 34 (2020), No. 1     24. Jan. 2020
J Orofac Pain 34 (2020), No. 1  (24.01.2020)

Page 53-60

Orofacial Pain and Toothache as the Sole Symptom of an Acute Myocardial Infarction Entails a Major Risk of Misdiagnosis and Death
Kreiner, Marcelo / Okeson, Jeffrey / Tanco, Verónica / Waldenström, Anders / Isberg, Annika
Aims: To provide an update of knowledge regarding the clinical presentation and neurophysiologic aspects of orofacial pain of cardiac origin in the form of a literature review.
Methods: The peer-reviewed databases Scopus/Embase, NCBI (PubMed), and Science Direct were searched up to December 2018.
Results: Patients with myocardial infarction presenting without chest pain run a higher risk of death due to missed diagnosis and subsequently a significantly greater delay between the onset of symptoms and arrival at the hospital. During myocardial ischemia, orofacial pain is reported by 4 in 10 patients and described as oppressive and/or burning. Up to 4% of myocardial infarction patients experience pain solely in the orofacial structures, women more often than men. Orofacial pain during myocardial ischemia is associated with ischemia within the inferior wall of the heart, suggesting the involvement of the vagal system.
Conclusion: The clinician's awareness of the full spectrum of clinical characteristics of a myocardial infarction constitutes a key factor in accurate diagnosis. Health care professionals and the general public should be aware of the possibility of myocardial infarction presenting with orofacial pain, toothache, or ear/temporomandibular joint pain as the only symptom.

Keywords: cardiac ischemia, cardiac pain, myocardial infarction, orofacial pain, toothache