What is Chest Pain?
Chest pain is when you feel discomfort or pain between your neck and upper abdomen. Chest pain appears in many forms, ranging from a sharp stab to a dull ache and crushing or burning sensations.
Any organ or tissue in your chest can be a source of pain, including your heart, lungs, esophagus, muscles, ribs, tendons, or nerves. In certain cases, the pain may travel up the neck, to the jaw, and then radiate to the back or down one or both arms.
There are many different problems that can lead to chest pain. Some causes are harmless to your health, while others are more serious and can be life-threatening. The most life-threatening causes include heart or lung disease.
It is important to seek medical help immediately, as chest pain can indicate a serious problem. Make an appointment with a cardiologist through Smarter Health.
Causes of Chest Pain
There are many causes of chest pain, all of which require medical attention. Below are diseases that are likely to cause chest pain:
Heart-related Chest Pain
Some examples of heart-related causes of chest pain include:
- Heart attack – a condition when you have blocked blood flow, usually from a blood clot, to your heart muscle.
- Angina – a term for chest pain that results from poor blood flow to the heart. This is often due to a thick buildup of plaque on the inner walls of the arteries that carry blood to your heart. The plaque buildup narrows the arteries and limits blood supply to the heart.
- Aortic dissection is a fatal condition involving the main artery leading from your heart (aorta). If the inner lining of the blood vessels is torn and separated, blood is forced to flow between them, which risks causing the aorta to burst.
- Pericarditis is inflammation of the thin, sac-like lining that surrounds your heart. It usually causes sharp pain that gets worse when you inhale or when you lie down.
Digestive-related Chest Pain
The cause of chest pain can also be caused by problems in your digestive system, including:
- Ulcer is a burning pain in your belly between your breastbone. It occurs when stomach acid leaves your stomach and flow back up into the esophagus
- Gallstones or inflammation of the gallbladder or pancreas can cause abdominal pain that travels up to the chest.
Muscle & Bone-related Chest Pain
Several types of chest pain are related to muscles and bones, including:
- Bruised or broken ribs can cause chest pain.
- Chronic muscle pain can cause persistent muscle-related chest pain.
- Costochondritis is an inflammation of the cartilage that connects the sternum to your ribs.
Lungs-related Chest Pain
Several lung disorders can cause chest pain, including:
- Pulmonary hypertension – when you have high blood pressure in the arteries that carry blood to your lungs.
- Pulmonary embolism – a disease caused by a blood clot lodged in the pulmonary artery that blocks blood flow to the lung tissue.
- Pleuritis – inflammation of the membrane covering the lungs. This can cause severe chest pain when you inhale or cough.
- ‘Leaky’ lungs can cause sudden chest pain that last for hours. It is also commonly associated with shortness of breath. A collapsed lung occurs when air leaks into the space between the lung and ribs.
When to See a Doctor for Chest Pain
Your cardiologist will ask a number of questions related to your chest pain symptoms. He or she may also perform a series of diagnostic tests, including:
- Blood test to measure enzyme levels.
- Electrocardiogram (EKG) to record your heart’s electrical activity
- Stress test to measure your heart function after activity.
- Angiogram to look for blockages in certain arteries.
- MRI to look for damage to the heart or aorta.
- Chest x-rays to examine your heart, lungs, and blood vessels.
- Echocardiogram uses sound waves to record your heart’s activity.
Symptoms of Chest Pain
Chest pain can cause many different sensations depending on what triggers it. Talk to your doctor to identify the cause. Below are some symptoms of chest pain.
In general, chest pain is associated with heart attack or other heart problems, such as:
- Shortness of breath.
- Cold sweats.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Dizziness or weakness.
- Pressure, tightness, or burning sensation in the chest.
- Persistent pain, lasting for a few minutes and worsen while carrying out daily tasks
- Burning pain that travels up to the back, neck, jaw, shoulders, and one or both arms.
Other Symptoms of Chest Pain
It is difficult to distinguish chest pain related to heart disease from other types of chest pain. However, chest pain symptoms due to heart problems may include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Tenderness when you push against your chest.
- Pain that persists for hours.
- A sour taste or sensation of food re-entering your mouth.
- Pain that intensifies when you take a deep breath or cough.
- Pain that gets better or worse when you change your body position.
Treatment for Chest Pain
Your doctor will suggest treatment based on your condition and the cause of your chest pain.
Medications used to treat some of the most common causes of chest pain include nitroglycerin, aspirin, thrombolytic drugs, blood thinners, acid suppressants, and antidepressants.
Surgery aims at treating more severe causes of chest pain, such as:
- Heart bypass surgery is performed to create an alternative pathway for blood to flow around the blocked arteries.
- Dissection repair is performed for a life-threatening condition, in which the artery that carries blood from the heart throughout your body ruptures.
- Lung reinflation is performed if your lungs collapse. Your doctor may insert a tube into the chest to inflate the lung
- Angioplasty and stent placement may be performed if chest pain is caused by a blockage in an artery that feeds your heart.
Treatment Cost for Chest Pain
Treatment cost for chest pain vary greatly. For more details regarding the estimated treatment cost for chest pain at home and abroad, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Chest Pain
You can prevent the risks of chest pain by taking the following steps:
- Avoid cold meat and pickles.
- Quit smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Adopt a balanced and healthy diet.
- Reduce consumption of salt and replace it with cooking spices.
- Consume nuts, fruits and vegetables to control your cholesterol levels
- Engage in regular physical activities, such as walking every day for at least 30 minutes.
- People with diabetes or high blood pressure must maintain their condition
- Avoid consuming saturated fat from lamb, beef, fried foods, and pastries.
- Eat foods rich in omega-3s, such as dried fruits, salmon, sardines, white anchovies, and tuna.
Home Remedies for Chest Pain
It is advised that you take medications prescribed by your doctor as self-care measures at home for chest pain. In addition, avoid triggering factors of chest pain, such as gas, acid reflux, ulcers, and severe coughing.
Chest pain can also indicate a heart attack or other heart disease. That is why if a person experiences chest pain, he or she should immediately consult a doctor to get proper medical care.
Have more questions about chest pain? Write them down in the comment section below or book a consultation with a cardiologist at home and abroad through Smarter Health.