Chest Pain: Is it a heart attack?

The moment people hear the term chest pain, a heart attack is the first thing that comes to mind

Chest Pain: Is it a heart attack?

The moment people hear the term chest pain, a heart attack is the first thing that comes to mind. However, that is not always the case because there are various causes of chest pain. This article will help you understand the chest pain causes and when you should get help from your doctor or emergency services.

Causes Of Chest Pain

While chest pain is often associated with heart-related problems and disorders, there can be various causes of it. The following are some of the common chest pain causes.

Lung problems

Many types of lung problems lead to chest pain. Pulmonary hypertension causes severe chest pain. Pleurisy can cause chest pain when you breathe in or when you cough. Pulmonary embolism is another lung disorder that can cause chest pain due to the inability of blood to flow to the lung tissue. A collapsed lung can lead to chest pain and this pain can last for hours. Asthma can lead to chest pain and so can pneumothorax. Other lung disorders such as pulmonary embolism and pneumonia can lead to chest pain.

Heart problems

An aortic dissection can cause severe chest pain. Coronary artery disease can lead to chest pain that spreads to your back, shoulder, jaw or arm. Mitral valve prolapse is one of the heart problems that lead to chest pain accompanied by other symptoms such as dizziness. Pericarditis can cause chest pain that is sharp and you might feel it getting worse when you swallow food or when you breathe. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can cause chest pain too. A heart attack causes chest pain that is accompanied by weakness, breathing difficulty, sweating, and nausea.

Gastrointestinal problems

There are various digestive problems that can lead to varying degrees of chest pain. Peptic ulcers can cause chest pain. Gallbladder problems can cause pain in the lower chest area after you have a hearty meal. Hiatal hernia can cause chest pain which can get worse when you lie down. Pancreatitis can cause chest pain in the lower chest area. Esophageal hypersensitivity, esophageal rupture, and esophageal contraction disorders can lead to chest pain too. Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD can cause a burning sensation in the chest area.

Muscle, bone or nerve problems

Sometimes you can injure the muscles that are found between the ribs which can lead to chest pain. If you continue to do the activity then the chest pain can get even worse. This can be caused by constant coughing. Problems in the ribs can be a cause of chest pain. For example, if you fractured your ribs then you may experience chest pain which can get worse when you cough or breathe deeply. Shingles can cause chest pain. Certain viruses can lead to chest pain and if you get injured in the chest area then it can lead to chest pain too.

Apart from these, there can be other causes such as panic attacks which can lead to chest pain. Anxiety can lead to chest pain as well.

Do You Need Medical Assistance?

Whether you need medical assistance or not depends on your symptoms. You should speak to your doctor if you experience problems in swallowing your food or if you have severe chest pain that has stayed longer than it usually does. If you have chills, suddenly have a fever or if you notice yellow-green mucus when you cough then you should contact your doctor.

If you experience any of the following symptoms then you should call emergency services without delay.

  • The chest pain goes to other areas of your body such as your left arm, back, or jaw.
  • You experience a sudden acute pain that comes with an inability to breathe even if you were not doing anything.
  • You notice a lowering heart rate or a sudden drop in your blood pressure.
  • You feel an uncomfortable crushing feeling that resembles tightness and pressure in your breastbone area.
  • You sweat excessively, feel dizzy, breathe rapidly or heart rate spikes suddenly.

Sometimes it becomes difficult to determine the type of chest pain you are having because there are various types and the pain depends on the symptom that triggers it. The best way to deal with it is to contact your doctor when you have sudden chest pain. If you think you might be having a heart attack then you should call emergency services as soon as possible. You should make a note of your symptoms as these can help your doctor determine why you are having chest pain so you can get the appropriate treatment on time.

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