Chest pain is a common reason for people to visit the Emergency Department. The pain can have many causes, including cardiac, respiratory, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, and psychiatric. Chest pain can occur with a heart attack or several other cardiac conditions, but it’s also a common symptom in many less severe problems. So, even if you think your chest pain is from your heart – it’s essential to see a Plano chest pain specialist to have it checked out. Since the symptoms of a heart attack and other cardiac problems overlap with those of other medical conditions, it’s best to have your symptoms checked and evaluated by a professional to determine the cause.
Common Causes of Chest Pain
- Heart Attack
Chest pain is one of the most common symptoms in people who have or have had a heart attack. The pain may be mild, moderate, or severe, and it happens because an area of the heart muscle isn’t getting enough oxygen-rich blood. Other symptoms include:
- Pressure or fullness in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes,
- Intense discomfort in other areas of the upper body, particularly one or both arms, shoulders, neck, jaw, or back,
- Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness, nausea or vomiting, and fainting
- Cigarette Smoking
Smoking is dangerous for your heart. Every time you smoke a cigarette, the chemicals in the smoke hurt your arteries and can affect the heart’s electrical system.
- Other Causes of Chest Pain
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid or bile flows back into the esophagus.
Heartburn results from acid backing up into your esophagus, the tube that connects your throat to your stomach.
A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach squeezes through an opening in the diaphragm and into the chest.
Symptoms of Chest Pain
Chest pain can be mild or severe, and it may also spread to other areas of your upper body. Pain-related conditions affecting the heart are often described as dull chest discomfort, tightness, pressure, squeezing, fullness, or burning.
The following are types of chest pain:
Severe chest discomfort is the most common symptom. It can be felt anywhere in your chest and may also involve your neck, jaw, shoulders, or arm.
You may have chest discomfort that comes on with other symptoms such as shortness of breath and cough. Your muscles between and around your ribs (intercostal muscles) may hurt when you breathe in.
The pain can be constant or come and go. It may feel like squeezing, pressure, fullness, burning, or sharp pain. The discomfort is often worse with exertion, coughing, eating, lying down, and breathing.
You may develop new-onset chest discomfort that comes on quickly and feels like an elephant sitting on your chest. You may also have pain in your arms, hands, neck, jaw, or back. This chest pain is typically very severe and described as crushing or squeezing, burning, sharp, or stabbing.
To summarize, chest pain is a severe condition and one of the leading causes of emergency department visits. Common causes of chest pain include heart attack and cigarette smoking, but you can also develop chest pains due to GERD, acid reflux, and hiatal hernia. Common symptoms include severe chest discomfort, pressure or burning in the chest cavity, and pain in the intercostal muscles when breathing.