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Disclaimer: I am fully aware that Desperate Housewives has no intention of being scientifically accurate, so I would prefer not to have this information as an answer.

In the episode "The Best Thing That Ever Could Have Happened" (S05E13), Eli Scruggs (played by Beau Bridges) has a heart attack on the roof, right after he finished the repairs.

However, when the pain hits, it is on the right side of his body, instead of the left. It was OK (scientifically) that the pain was located near the shoulder, but why did they choose to hint that the heart is on the right side of the body?

I could speculate that for some reason they flipped the image, so the left became the right, but I have no reference that this could be the case.

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    Do a web search on “radiating pain” Feb 8, 2023 at 11:58
  • I did, even though I knew the concept. The search just "confirmed" what I already knew. Radiating pain applies usually to other afflictions, while the heart attacks have the same "pain pattern" - pain in the chest, which radiates in the left shoulder / arm.
    – virolino
    Feb 8, 2023 at 12:39

2 Answers 2

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I can't say for certain if this was the show's intention, but there is a medical condition called dextrocardia in which the heart is located on the right side of the torso instead of the left. So the simplest in-universe explanation is that Eli had dextrocardia, and the pain from his heart attack therefore manifested on the right sight of his body.

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He didn't have a heart attack on the wrong side. Not all heart attack pain is localized in the heart or just one side of the body.

From Cedars-Sinai HospitalCedars-Sinai Hospital:

During a heart attack, a person may feel pain in the middle of the chest that can spread to the back, jaw or arms. The pain may also be felt in all of these places and not the chest. Sometime the pain is felt in the stomach area, where it may be taken for indigestion.

From the Centers for Disease Control:

The major symptoms of a heart attack are

Chest pain or discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center or left side of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.

Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint. You may also break out into a cold sweat. Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.

Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders.

Shortness of breath. This often comes along with chest discomfort, but shortness of breath also can happen before chest discomfort.

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