First Aid For Myocardial Contusion: Causes, Symptoms and Management

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Myocardial contusion is the bruising of the heart muscle that is frequently due to an injury to the chest wall from a car accident, falling from heights, etc.

Chest pains and cardiac problems
Chest pains are common symptoms for individuals with cardiac emergencies.

Myocardial contusion is the bruising of the heart muscle that is frequently due to an injury to the chest wall. Cases of myocardial contusion can range from mild to severe. Several tests will be done by a doctor is required for proper diagnosis. Physical examinations may be performed on the patient to check for fractures, bruises, or regularity of heartbeat. But other tests may better diagnose myocardial contusion including blood tests, electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), echocardiogram, CT scan of the chest and chest x-ray. These tests may show internal injuries to the chest, fluid build-up, abnormal heartbeat and other heart problems.

Myocardial contusion should not be confused with myocardial infarction. While the former pertains to the bruising of the heart muscle, the latter pertains to damage to the heart that occurs from lack of blood flow to the muscle usually due to a blockage to one of the coronary arteries. Myocardial infarction is heart attack, a medical emergency that requires immediate help. Severe myocardial contusion may lead to myocardial infarction. Myocardial contusion is also considered a medical emergency, thus when the signs and symptoms are observed, one should call for emergency medical services as soon as possible.

Causes of Myocardial Contusion

The following may cause blunt trauma to the chest, which may eventually lead to myocardial contusion. Even though blunt trauma is the more common cause of myocardial contusion, penetrating trauma may also cause myocardial contusion.

  • Car accidents
  • Getting hit by a car
  • Falling from a height greater than 20 feet
  • Chest compressions from cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

Signs and Symptoms of Myocardial Contusion

One can be suspected of suffering from myocardial contusion if any of the following symptoms manifest, especially after chest trauma:

  • Pain sensation in front of the breastbone or the ribs
  • Sensation that the heart is pounding or increased heart rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Light-headedness
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Weakness and fatigue

Complications of Myocardial Contusion

Despite undergoing treatment for myocardial infarction, it is not uncommon to develop complications after initial trauma. Although mild cases are most common and have high recovery rates, the following complications may develop from myocardial contusion.

  • Arrhythmias
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Cardiac tamponade
  • Pericardial effusion
  • Traumatic aneurysm

Treatment for Myocardial Contusion

Treatment for myocardial contusion will be based accordingly to the severity of the injury. Some of the treatments used to treat myocardial contusion include:

  • In the emergency room, catheter may be placed in the vein through an IV. Oxygen treatment and a pacemaker may also be required. Medications may also be given to ease pain, hypotension and increased heart rate.
  • Close monitoring for 24 hours with and ECG to constantly check heart function.
  • In some cases, surgery may also be required.

Disclaimer: This article does not provide medical advice or treatment. The information given should not be used for self-diagnosis. Seek medical attention when necessary. Understanding myocardial contusion may help when taking first aid training. To learn more about to how to recognize symptoms of myocardial contusion and other conditions, enrol in first aid training with a credible American or Canadian training provider.


Myocardial Contusion. (ND). Active Forever. Retrieved on October 14, 2013, from

Myocardial Contusion. (2012). National Institute of Health. Retrieved on October 14, 2013, from


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