Chest pain can come in many forms, ranging from a pointy stab to a dull ache. Sometimes the pain maybe crushing or burning. In some cases, the pain can move up to the neck or into the jaw, then radiates to other part or down one or both arms.
Different health conditions can cause chest pain. The foremost life-threatening causes involve the middle of the chest or lungs. Since chest pain may be an indication to a serious underline heat condition, it is important to seek for immediate medical help.
Chest pain can lead to many form of sensations depending on what’s causing the symptom. Sometime, the cause may not be anything that involves the heart, and that is why you need to seek for a good advice from your health provider.
Symptoms of chest pain that may involves the heart
Chest pain may sometime relate to some heart (cardiac) problems, but many people with heart problems say that they do experience some other discomfort which they can’t necessarily said to pain.
Generally, chest discomfort associated with other heart disease or heart attack could even be described by or related to one or combination of the following:
- Tightness in the chest, full pressure, fullness, or burning sensation
- Shortness of breath
- Crushing sensation or searing pain that radiates to the back, jaw, shoulders, neck, and may sometime radiate to one or both arms
- Vomiting or Nausea
- Pain that can last for some time, gets worse with daily activities, or varies in intensity
- Cold sweats
- Dizziness or weakness
It’s sometimes difficult to differentiate heart-related pain from other type of chest pain. However, pain that involves other health condition other than heart related disease is sometimes associate with:
- Feeling of food reflux into the mouth
- Tenderness when you press your chest
- Pain that’s persistently present for some hours
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Pain that gets better or worse when you change position
- Pain that may get serious when you take a deep breath or cough
Causes of chest pain
There are many causes of chest pain, in most the cases isn’t related to heart condition, the following are the most common causes.
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Digestive or gastrointestinal causes
Chest pain can be caused by disorders of the digestive system, including:
- Swallowing disorders –Some pain can be observe from people that have has disorders in the esophagus which can make swallowing difficult and even painful.
- Heartburn or indigestion — Heartburn and indigestion are often used interchangeably, but they’re actually different conditions. Indigestion can general be used for digestive issues. Heartburn, on the other hand, is painful or a burning sensation that can normally felt behind the breastbone which occurs when the stomach acid reflux into your esophagus.
- Pancreas or Gallbladder disease — Gallstones or inflammation of the gallbladder and pancreas can cause some pain in the upper abdominal region that can radiates to your chest.
Some lung disorders can cause chest pain, which may include:
- Collapsed lung —The chest pain that result from a collapsed lung normally begins suddenly and can last for hours, and is generally associated with shortness of breath. A collapsed lung occurs when air leaks into the outer space between the lung and the ribs.
- Pleurisy —this is when the membrane that covers the lungs becomes inflamed, which can cause chest pain that becomes serious when you cough or inhale.
- Pulmonary hypertension —This happens when you have high blood pressure in the arteries carrying blood to the lungs, which can cause chest pain.
- Pulmonary embolism — This occurs when a blood clot lodged somewhere in a lung (pulmonary) artery, stopping proper blood flow to lung tissue.
Bone and Muscle causes of chest pain
Some form of chest pain are associated with injuries and other problems that can affect the structures that make up the chest wall, which may include:
- Sore muscles — this is a chronic pain syndromes, such as fibromyalgia which can cause persistent muscle-related chest pain.
- Costochondritis —This is a condition where the cartilage of your rib cage, particularly the ones that joins the ribs to your breastbone, becomes inflamed and painful.
- Injured ribs– broken ribs or bruised can cause chest pain.
Examples of heart-related causes of chest pain may include the following:
- Cardiomyopathy – this is a disease which involves the heart muscle
- Aortic dissection – This is a life-threatening condition which involves the main artery leading from the heart (aorta).
- Pericarditis— This is the inflammation of the sac that surrounds your heart. It normally causes sharp pain which can gets worse when you breathe in or when you lie down
- Heart attack — This can occur as a results of blocked blood flow to the heart muscles, often from a blood clot.
- Angina — this term is used for chest pain caused by poor blood flow to the heart. This is usually caused by the buildup of thick plaques on the inner walls of the arteries which carry blood to the heart. These plaques on the walls of the arteries narrows it thereby restrict the blood supply to the heart, especially during exertion.
Chest pain can also be caused by the following:
- Shingles — this is caused by a reactivation of the chickenpox virus, which can caused pain and blisters from the back around to your chest wall
- Panic attack –If you have reoccurrence of intense fear which is always accompanied by chest pain, shortness of breath, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, rapid breathing, continuous sweating, and a fear of dying, you may sometimes be experiencing a panic attack.
Diagnosis of chest pain
Your healthcare provider or doctor may ask you to get a tests to help diagnose or eliminate any heart-related problems as a cause of your chest pain. The test may include:
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – MRI is among the best modalities used in dictating any damage to the heart or aorta
- Stress test — stress test are used to measure how your heart is functioning after exertion
- Angiogram — this is an exams which is normally use to look for blockages in the arteries
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) – this is an exams that is normally used in recording the heart’s electrical activity
- Chest X- ray – this can be used to examine the lungs, heart, and blood vessels
- Echocardiogram – this is the use of sound waves to record moving images of the heart