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Blunt Force Trauma from a Car Accident Can Lead To Cardiac Injuries

The strong force from a car crash can leave you with internal injuries, and one possible serious outcome is damage to the heart, known as cardiac trauma.  After a car accident, it’s important to be aware of the possibility of heart injuries and seek medical help promptly, even if you don’t see immediate signs of harm. Taking this step ensures you get the right care after a car accident.

How common is blunt force cardiac trauma?

According to Mediastinum, blunt cardiac trauma (BCT) is a relatively uncommon but likely underdiagnosed consequence of blunt chest injuries. It occurs in less than 10% of all trauma admissions, yet it accounts for about 25% of traumatic fatalities. BCT typically results from forceful impact, rapid deceleration, or crush injuries, with common causes including motor vehicle accidents, incidents involving pedestrians struck by vehicles, and falls from considerable heights.

Heart injuries caused by blunt force trauma

In a car accident, chest injuries happen due to the sudden impact or deceleration forces, including hitting the steering wheel, dashboard, or airbag. Even though airbags are meant to help, they can still cause some impact. Further, if the seatbelt or airbag doesn’t fully protect you, it can lead to more chest injuries. Objects inside the car and side crashes can also cause blunt force trauma to your chest, and therefore your heart.

Heart injuries caused by blunt force trauma include:

  • Blunt thoracic aortic injury. Blunt thoracic aortic injury is a serious condition that can occur during car accidents when the main artery leading from the heart, called the aorta, gets damaged due to the forces involved in sudden slowing down.Symptoms can include intense chest pain, difficulty breathing, and signs of shock. Because it can be life-threatening, it’s important for healthcare providers to suspect and diagnose it quickly.
  • Cardiac contusions. Cardiac contusions, also known as myocardial contusions, involve bruises or injuries to the heart muscle caused by blunt force trauma. The force of impact during a car accident can result in the heart hitting against the sternum or rib cage, leading to contusions. Symptoms may include chest pain, difficulty breathing, and irregular heartbeat. Contusions can range from mild to severe, with potential complications (including heart attack and sudden death) depending on the extent of the injury.
  • Cardiac tamponade. Cardiac tamponade occurs when blood accumulates in the pericardial sac (the sac surrounding the heart), compressing the heart and limiting its ability to pump blood effectively. When you’re in a car accident, the blunt force trauma you may experience may sever or tear the vessels around the heart, leading to the bleeding that fills the pericardial sac. Symptoms may include chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, and signs of shock. Cardiac tamponade is a critical and life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical intervention.
  • Myocardial rupture. Myocardial rupture (or heart rupture) involves the tearing or rupture of the heart muscle, leading to internal bleeding within the cardiac tissue. Symptoms may include severe chest pain, signs of shock, and difficulty breathing. Myocardial rupture is a life-threatening emergency that demands immediate medical attention. Usually seen as a complication of a heart attack, the heart can also experience tears from blunt force trauma, though it’s not extremely common.
  • Coronary artery dissection. Blunt force trauma can cause a tear in the coronary arteries, disrupting blood flow to the heart muscle. Symptoms may include chest pain, shortness of breath, and signs of a heart attack. Coronary artery dissection can lead to serious cardiac complications and requires prompt medical evaluation and intervention.
  • Aortic disruption or rupture. Severe car accidents may cause injury to the aorta, resulting in aortic disruption or rupture. Symptoms may include sudden, severe chest pain, signs of shock, and difficulty breathing. Aortic disruption or rupture is a medical emergency with a high risk of mortality, necessitating immediate intervention.
  • Arrhythmias. Blunt force trauma can disrupt the heart’s electrical system, leading to irregular heart rhythms or arrhythmias. Symptoms may include palpitations, dizziness, fainting, or chest discomfort. Arrhythmias can range from mild to severe.

Getting prompt medical help after a Phoenix car accident is critical for the right diagnosis and treatment. If you have symptoms that have you concerned that your heart may have suffered trauma, don’t wait—go to the emergency room right away.

At Plattner Verderame PC, we know that dealing with heart injuries after a car accident can bring hefty hospital bills, income loss, and emotional pain. We’re here to support you during these tough times. Our team is skilled in personal injury cases and aim to secure the compensation you deserve for medical costs, lost earnings, and the overall impact on your life. Trust us to work hard on your behalf, gathering evidence, talking to insurance companies, and determining liable parties so we can help to relieve your financial stress. Our goal is to reach a fair resolution, allowing you to focus on recovery while we secure you the compensation you so rightly deserve. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your options, call us at our Phoenix or Tempe offices, or use our contact page.