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Chest Pain or Discomfort:


Chest pain can be life-threatening when it continues for a longer time. Chest pain can appear in different forms which range from sharp stab to dull ache. Sometimes, chest pain feels burning or crushing and the pain travels up into the jaw or the neck. This can spread further at the back or down in one or both the arms. Several problems can be the reason for chest pain and life-threatening causes can be lungs or heart. Since chest pain denotes a serious problem, it is important to see your doctor for immediate help.

Causes of chest pain

Heart-related causes

  • Heart attack – A heart attack occurs due to blocked flow of blood which may often be from a blood clot to your heart muscle.
  • Angina – Angina is another term for your chest pain that occurs due to poor blood flow to your heart. This generally occurs by the accumulation of thick plaques on inner walls of arteries that carry blood to your heart. The plaques narrow the arteries and restrict blood supply to the heart at the time of physical activity.
  • Aortic dissection – This is a life-threatening condition which involves main artery leading from the heart. When the inner layers of this blood vessel separate, the blood will be forced between the layers and lead aorta to rupture.
  • Inflammation of sac around heart – The condition leads to sharp pain which becomes worse at the time of breathing in or lying down.

Digestive causes

  • Heartburn. This burning sensation behind your breastbone happens when stomach acid washes up from stomach into the tube that connects throat to the stomach.
  • Swallowing disorders – The disorders of esophagus make swallowing somewhat difficult and painful.
  • Pancreas or gallbladder problems – Inflammation of pancreas or gallbladder may lead to abdominal pain that spreads to your chest.

Muscle and bone causes

Lung-related causes

Other causes

Chest pain may also occur due to:

How to diagnose chest pain

You need to seek for emergency treatment immediately when you think you have a heart attack. Also, if the chest pain is new, unexplained, or may last for more than a few moments. The doctor will ask some questions and your answers will help to diagnose the exact cause of your chest pain. Make sure you are prepared to discuss any related symptoms and share information about any medications, treatments or other medical conditions that you might have.

How you will know if your chest pain is serious

Chest pain may denote a heart attack. Other signs of a heart attack are:

Risk factors with chest pain

How to prevent chest pain

What kind of chest pain can be alarming?

Anxiety, muscle strain, infection, and heart or lung problems and indigestion can be the reason for your chest pain. If the chest pain is changing, unexplained or new, you should seek help from your health care provider.

How long is actually too long for chest pain?

When the chest pain becomes continuous, you need to get medical attention immediately. If the chest pain persists for several days, weeks or months, it is unlikely to occur due to a heart attack. Heart pain is usually not stabbing or sharp.

How will you know if chest pain is related to heart?

  1. Uncomfortable pressure, burning, squeezing, tightness, pain or fullness in the center of your chest
  2. Prickling, numbness, pain, pinching, or other uncomfortable sensations in one or both the arms, jaw, neck, stomach or back
  3. Vomiting or nausea all of a sudden
  4. Shortness of breath.

When you need to visit a chest specialist

When you experience new or unexplained chest pain or think you can have a heart attack, you should see a doctor immediately. Make sure you do not ignore the symptoms of a heart attack and stay safe. 

Consult with your doctor when chest pain persists for a long time!