Chest pain may be a sign that something’s not right. But when discomfort is a brief event, people often choose to ignore it. Unfortunately, ignoring chest pain can lead to more serious health issues down the road.
Pain or discomfort is one way the body indicates that something is wrong, so it’s important to pay attention to those signals. Discomfort in the chest doesn’t necessarily mean heart disease, but being aware of this and other possible causes can help you determine whether to seek emergency care.
Chest pain due to heart issues may be experienced as tightness, burning, fullness, or a crushing sensation. This feeling may be accompanied by shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, cold sweats, or vomiting, and the pain may radiate to the back, neck, shoulder, or jaw.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, seek medical care immediately. You may be having a heart attack or other serious health event.
Causes & Risk Factors
Pain or discomfort in the chest can occur for a number of possible reasons. The following conditions are some of the most common causes of chest pain.
A heart attack or poor blood flow to the heart causes a type of chest pain called angina. Problems with the aorta can also cause chest pain, as can a condition called pericarditis, which involves inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart.
Various lung issues cause symptoms that may include chest discomfort. A collapsed lung can cause chest pain. So can pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the arteries that supply blood to the lungs). Chest pain can also be a result of pleurisy, a condition in which the membrane covering the lungs becomes inflamed. Pulmonary embolism (a blood clot blocking one of the lung’s arteries) often produces pain in the area of the clot.
Sometimes chest pain is the result of a digestive disorder, such as acid reflux or a problem with the esophagus. The discomfort felt in the chest may actually be pain that has radiated from other parts of the body, as is sometimes the case with disorders of the pancreas or gallbladder.
Muscle or bone injuries
Chest pain is not always related to the heart or other internal organs. A bruised or cracked rib or an injury to the chest wall can also cause chest pain. Sore muscles related to chronic pain syndromes can lead to discomfort in the chest, as can costochondritis, the inflammation of the cartilage that connects each rib to the sternum.
Treatment & Prevention
At Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates, we work to understand your symptoms in the context of your overall health. Using advanced diagnostics and a personalized approach, we can create a treatment plan that meets your individual needs. Depending on the root cause of your discomfort, we may recommend lifestyle modification, medication, minimally invasive procedures, surgery, or an appropriate combination of these options.
What does chest pain mean?