Chest pain – symptoms, causes and other associated risk factors

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Chest pain
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Chest pain can come in many different varieties which can range from a sharp stab to a dull ache. There are some chest pains that are described as burning or crushing. There are some cases when the travels up the neck, into the jaw and then it radiates through the back or down one or both arms. There are many different problems which can lead to chest pain. The most life – threatening problems which are causing chest pains are lungs or heart. It can be hard to determine the exact cause of chest and this is a reason why you need to seek medical help as soon as possible.

Symptoms of chest pain

There are many different health problems which can lead to chest pain. In many cases the underlying cause has nothing to do with the heart but you cannot tell for sure if you have not seen your doctor.

Heart – related chest pain: Chest pain is very common condition which is attributed to heart disease but there are many people who suffer from heart disease and they say that they experience a vague discomfort for which the chest pain is not adequate term. The chest discomfort which is related to a heart attack or another heart problem can be associated or described with one or more of the following:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or weakness
  • Cold sweats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain that lasts more than a few minutes, gets worse with the activity, goes away and comes back or varies in intensity
  • Crushing or searing pain that radiates to your back, neck, jaw, shoulders and arms – particularly your left arm
  • Pressure, fullness or tightness in your chest

Other types of chest pain

In many cases is difficult to distinguish the chest pains caused by a heart problem from other types of chest pain. The chest pain which is less likely due to a heart problem is more often associated with:

  • Tenderness when you push on your chest
  • Pain that intensifies when you breathe deeply or cough
  • Pain that gets better or worse when you change your body position
  • Trouble swallowing
  • A sour taste or sensation of food re – entering your mouth

The classic symptoms of heartburn (which is a painful and burning sensation behind your breastbone), can be caused by problems with your stomach or heart. If you have chest pain which you cannot explain to yourself or you suspect that you have a heart attack, then you should seek medical help.

Causes: There are many different causes for chest pains and all of them deserve medical attention:

  1. Heart – related causes:
  • Pericarditis: This is an inflammation of the sac surrounding your heart. Usually it causes sharp pain that gets worse when you breathe in or when you lay down.
  • Heart attack: A heart attack is a result of a blood clot that is blocking blood flow to your heart muscle.
  • Aortic dissection: This is life – threatening condition which involves the main artery leading from your heart and that is aorta. If the inner layers of this blood vessel separate, blood will be forced between the layers and can cause the aorta to rupture.
  1. Digestive causes:
  • Gallbladder or pancreas problems: Inflammation or gallstones of your pancreas or gallbladder can cause abdominal pain that radiates to your chest.
  • Swallowing disorders: Disorders of the esophagus can make swallowing difficult and even painful.
  • Heartburn: This painful, burning sensation behind your breastbone occurs when stomach acid washes up from your stomach into the esophagus – the tube that connects your throat to your stomach.

Chest pain

  1. Muscle and bone causes:
  • Injured ribs: A bruised or broken rib can cause chest pain.
  • Sore muscles: The chronic pain syndromes, such as fibromyalgia, can produce persistent muscle – related chest pain.
  • Costochondritis: In this condition, the cartilage of your rib cage, particularly the cartilage that joins your ribs to your breastbone, becomes inflamed and painful.
  1. Lung – related causes:
  • Pulmonary hypertension: High blood pressure in the arteries carrying blood to the lungs (pulmonary hypertension) also can produce chest pains.
  • Pulmonary embolism: This cause of chest pain occurs when a blood clot becomes lodged in a lung (pulmonary) artery, blocking blood flow to lung tissue
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