A person may experience chest pain when something is wrong with the heart or lungs. Several other things, such as a heart attack, a blood clot, a hernia, and a problem with the arteries in the chest, can also cause chest pain.
Chest pain can signify a serious medical condition and requires immediate medical attention. Sometimes it is caused by heart disease, pneumonia, or a heart attack. Other times, pain in the chest can be due to problems with the heart or lungs. Regardless of the cause, it’s important to get expert help if you experience significant chest pain.
If the pain is mild, you may be able to treat it yourself with over-the-counter remedies like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. However, if the pain is more severe or persists for more than a few minutes, you should call your doctor immediately.
What Causes Chest Pain?
The most common causes are heart disease, aneurysms, and cancer. Other causes include aortic aneurysm, pneumonia, angina pectoris, and myocardial infarction (heart attack). Other causes include tension pneumothorax, cardiomyopathy, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Abnormalities may also cause pain in the heart’s valves, such as mitral stenosis or valvular heart disease. Other causes include:
- A heart attack.
- A pulmonary embolism (a blockage in one of the larger veins in your lungs).
- Aortic aneurysm (a balloon-like bulge on the inner wall of one of your large arteries).
Each case is different and requires different treatment. If you are concerned about your chest pain, talk to your doctor.
Types of Chest Pain
There are many types of chest pain, each with a different cause. Some types are caused by heart problems, like a heart attack, and other types can be caused by lung problems, like pneumonia. But no matter the cause, it’s important to seek treatment.
Various symptoms can occur, and it’s important to know the types to determine the cause. Some of the most common types are:
• Chest pain caused by a heart attack typically comes on suddenly and can be accompanied by shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, sweating, or agitation.
• Acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), also referred to as a heart attack symptom is an emergency in which blood flow to part of your heart is blocked or reduced. Symptoms may include pain in the chest and discomfort, sudden weight loss, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and pale skin color.
Symptoms can vary, including intense pressure or aching in the chest, shortness of breath, sweating, and lightheadedness. Some people also experience nausea or vomiting. If you are experiencing chest pain, there are a few things to remember. The most common symptom is a sudden, intense stabbing or Pressure sensation in the chest, which can radiate to the arm and shoulder regions.
How to Treat Chest Pain?
The most common type is angina, which is usually caused by coronary artery disease or a heart attack. If you have angina, your doctor will probably order an electrocardiogram (EKG) to check for any signs of heart problems.
If the pain is mild, taking over-the-counter medications like aspirin or ibuprofen may be all you need. Surgery may sometimes be necessary to relieve the pressure on your heart. The most common are heartburn, indigestion, a hernia, and pericardium (the sac surrounding the heart). Other causes include:
- Angina pectoris*
- Aortic aneurysm*
- Coronary artery disease*
*Urgent medical attention is usually recommended in severe cases by healthcare providers
Other medical problems, such as pneumonia, cancer, or a stroke, may also cause chest pain. In some cases, chest pain is not caused by any specific factor and can be referred to as “non-specific” or “unexplained” chest pain.
What to do if you have a heart attack?
Several things can cause chest pain, so getting checked out as soon as possible is important. Some of the most common causes are heart disease, pulmonary embolism, a heart attack, and an aortic aneurysm (a bulging artery in the abdominal wall). Other causes may include anxiety, bronchitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ovarian cancer, and peptic ulcer.
There’s no definitive test for diagnosing these conditions, but often doctors will perform a physical exam and carry out tests like an electrocardiogram (EKG) or cardiac catheterization. If it is determined that you have a serious health condition, your doctor may recommend surgery or medication to treat it.
While there are many possible causes, some of which may not require immediate attention, such as indigestion or a cold, others may indicate an underlying health condition requiring treatment. Consult your doctor if you’re concerned about your symptoms and want more information. If you are experiencing chest pain, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room.
We’re Open When You Need Us
TGH Urgent Care’s walk-in clinics are available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. We regularly treat other non-life-threatening conditions, including flu, ear infections, minor lacerations, and much more. We have in-house lab and imaging capabilities, so we can provide a full diagnosis without sending you to an outside facility.