A patient is admitted to the hospital with a myocardial infarction (MI). When assessing the patient for pain, the nurse is most likely to observe referred pain in what location?

Left shoulder

Explanation

• Referred pain is pain that is felt in an area other than the stimulus. 

• During a myocardial infarction, pain is commonly felt in the chest, but pain also refers (or radiates) to the left shoulder or arm, neck, or jaw. 

• Women usually experience the same chest pain as men, but are more likely than men to have pain in the back and jaw, fatigue, dizziness or lightheadedness, and shortness of breath with nausea or vomiting.  Women can also have no chest pain but feel pressure in the upper back or upper abdomen. 

• Women are more likely than men to die from a heart attack. 

• Sternal (chest) pain would not be considered referred pain, but rather primary pain during an acute MI. 

• Pain in the head or left lower quadrant of the abdomen are not common locations for referred pain associated with a MI.

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