Experiencing chest pain doesn’t always mean you should rush to a doctor, even though people tend to get worried about it quickly. Chest pain can be due to a wide variety of causes. While some of them are serious, others are not, so it’s essential to educate yourself to distinguish between the most common ones.
If you’re wondering whether your chest pain is a problem, learning more about it will set your mind at ease. Let’s have a closer look at chest pain and its possible causes:
What Chest Pain Can Be Like
There are many different types of chest pain, causing different sensations. It can feel like:
- sharp stabs
- dull aches
Chest pain can also travel to other parts of your body and radiate from one point. Depending on where you feel the pain, as well as what the sensation is like, some causes can be ruled out. Chest pain can be associated with heart problems, digestive problems, muscle and bone-related conditions, and lung-related issues. Moreover, you might experience chest pain during a panic attack.
Chest Pain that is Unlikely to be a Sign of Heart Issues
There are specific symptoms whose presence might help you discern how acute your chest pain is. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms in addition to chest pain, it’s likely that the pain isn’t related to heart issues:
- Trouble swallowing;
- Chest tenderness when you push on it;
- Pain that is worse at rest and improves with exertion;
- Pain on deep breath;
- Sharp, stabbing pain only lasting a few seconds (especially if not related to physical exertion).
In contrast to that, heart-related chest pain will often have some of the following symptoms accompanying it:
- Cold sweats;
- Vomiting, nausea;
- Weakness and dizziness;
- Shortness of breath;
- Tightness and pressure in the chest;
- Severe pain that radiates to other body parts;
- Pain that varies in intensity.
More Serious Causes of Chest Pain
Heart-related issues are often considered to be the most severe causes of chest pain. A heart attack is usually the first thought you have when experiencing chest pain. However, other heart-related causes can include:
- Aortic stenosis — caused by heart valves becoming unable to close and open properly, leading to heart having to pump blood harder; it can be treated by open-heart surgery or by TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement);
- Angina — caused by a buildup of plaque on the arteries, leading to a restriction of the blood supply to the heart; can be treated with lifestyle changes, medication, invasive procedures or surgical procedures;
- Pericarditis — caused by an inflammation of the pericardium, sac-like tissue around the heart that leads to sharp pain, treated with medication, pericardiocentesis or pericardiectomy.
It is important to remember that while these are often the most common presentations, cardiac chest pain does not always present with these symptoms. If you are concerned about your chest pain and you aren’t sure it’s heartburn, call 911 or emergency medical help.
Call your doctor if you had an episode of unexplained chest pain that went away within a few hours and you did not seek medical attention. Both heartburn and a developing heart attack can cause symptoms that subside after a while. The pain doesn’t have to last a long time to be a warning sign.
Your heart health matters, and here at Premier Heart & Vascular Center (PHVC), we aim to take care of it as best we can. If you have any concerns about your cardiovascular health, our highly-skilled team can help you and answer any questions you may have.
Visit our website to find out more about how we can help you stay healthy.