Chest Pain: Definition, Types, Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, and More

Chest-Pain

Chest pain is a common reason people go to the emergency room. The pain can be different for each person. It can change in:

  • How it feels
  • How strong it is
  • How long it lasts
  • Where it is

The pain might be sharp and stabbing or just a dull ache. It could mean serious heart problems, but it could also be something less serious that isn’t dangerous. When you feel chest pain, you might think it’s a heart attack. But other, less serious things can cause chest pain too. For more research you can also visit Wikipedia. 

What is Chest Pain?

It can come from heart disease, but it can also be caused by a lung infection, muscle strain, a rib injury, or a panic attack. Some of these problems are serious and need a doctor. It is the second most common reason people go to the emergency room in the United States, causing over 8 million visits each year. Around the world, 20-40% of people have it.

What is the Type of Chest Pain?

Here are several types of it. Such as:

  • Unstable angina
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Pleurisy
  • Pneumonia
  • Shingles
  • Pericarditis
  • Aortic dissection
  • Esophageal rupture
  • Panic attack
  • Pneumothorax
  • Heart attack
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Pancreatitis

What are the Causes of Chest Pain?

When you have the pain , you might first think it’s a heart attack. While it is a common sign of heart attack, it can also be caused by many less serious problems. One study found that only 5.5% or ER visits for chest pain are due to a serious heart problem.

Heart-related Causes of Chest Pain:

Here are some heart-related causes of it:

  • Heart attack, a blockage of blood flow to the heart.
  • Angina, chest pain caused by blockages in the blood vessels leading to the heart.
  • Pericarditis, inflammation of the sac around the heart.
  • Myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscles.
  • Cardiomyopathy, disease of the heart muscles.
  • Aortic dissection, A rare condition involving a tear in the aorta, the large vessel that comes off the heart.

Gastrointestinal Causes of Chest Pain:

Here are some gastrointestinal causes of it. Such as:

  • Acid reflux or heartburn, especially after eating.
  • Swallowing problems due to disorders of the esophagus.
  • Gallstone, which can cause upper abdominal pain or pain after eating.
  • Inflammation of the gallbladder or pancreas.

Lung-related Causes of Chest Pain:

Here are some lung-related causes of it. Such as:

  • Pneumonia causes pain that may get worse with breathing.
  • Viral bronchitis can cause soreness around the chest and muscle aches.
  • Pneumothorax, (collapsed lung), causes sudden chest pain.
  • Blood clot (pulmonary embolism), can cause sharp pain that worsen with breathing.
  • Bronchospasm causes chest tightness.
  • Bronchospasms often happen in people with asthma and related disorders like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Muscle or Bone Related Causes of Chest Pain:

Here are some muscle or bone related causes of it. Such as:

  • Bruised or broken ribs from an injury to the chest.
  • Sore muscles from overexertion or chronic pain syndrome.
  • Compression fractures causing pressure on a nerve.

Other Causes of Chest Pain:

Shingles can lead to it. You might feel pain along your back or chest before the shingles rash appears. Panic attacks can also cause it. 

What are the Symptoms of Chest Pain?

You might experience other symptoms along with it. Identifying these symptoms can assist your doctor in making a diagnosis. They include:

Heart-related Symptoms:

While pain is the most common symptom of heart problems, some people may experience other symptoms, with or without it. Women, in particular, may have atypical symptoms that later turn out to be due to a heart condition:

  • Chest pressure or tightness
  • Back, jaw, or arm pain
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Pain during exertion

Other Symptoms:

Symptoms that might suggest your it is not related to your heart include:

  • A sour or acidic taste in your mouth
  • Pain that occurs only after swallowing or eating
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Pain that changes with your body position
  • Pain that worsens with deep breathing or coughing
  • Chest pain accompanied by a rash
  • Fever
  • Aches
  • Chills
  • Runny nose
  • Whooping cough
  • Feelings of panic or anxiety
  • Hyperventilating
  • Back pain that spreads to the front of your chest

What are the Risk Factors of Chest Pain?

Here are some risk factors of it. Such as:

  • Alcohol use for vasospastic angina.
  • Illegal drug use, which can cause your heart to race or damage your blood vessels.
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking tobacco or long-term exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Psychological stress
  • Unhealthy eating patterns.
  • Age
  • Male gander
  • Family history
  • Premature coronary artery disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperlipidemia   

What is the Diagnosis of Chest Pain?

Seek emergency treatment right away if you suspect you’re having a heart attack, especially if your pain is new, unexplained, or persists for more than a few moments. Your doctor will ask you questions to help diagnose the cause of your illness. Be ready to discuss any other symptoms you’re experiencing and provide details about your medications, treatments, and medical history. Your doctor orders tests to help determine whether heart-related issues are causing your chest pain. These tests could include:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), records your heart’s electrical activity.
  • Blood tests measure enzyme level in the blood.
  • Chest X-ray, examines your heart, lung, and blood vessels.
  • Echocardiogram uses sound waves to create moving images of your heart.
  • MRI, looks for damage to your heart or aorta.
  • Stress tests, measures heart function after physical exertion.
  • Angiogram looks for blockages in specific arteries.
  • If you need assistance finding a primary care doctor, you can research for doctors in your area.

What is the Treatment of Chest Pain?

Your doctor may treat it with medication, noninvasive procedures, surgery, or a combination, depending on the cause and severity. For heart-related it, treatments may include:

  • Medications like nitroglycerin to open arteries, clot busting drugs, or blood thinners.
  • Cardiac catheterization, involving balloons or stents to open blocked arteries.
  • Coronary artery bypass grafting (bypass surgery) to surgically repair arteries.

For other causes of it, treatments may include:

  • Lung reinflation with a chest tube for a collapsed lung.
  • Antacids or procedures for acid reflux and heartburn to relieve symptoms.
  • Anti-anxiety medications to manage chest pain from panic attacks.  

What to Know About Chest Pain and Anxiety?

It is a common symptom of anxiety and panic attacks, often a prominent feature during severe episodes. It can also heighten anxiety if someone fears they’re having a heart attack. About 25% of people will experience chest pain at some point in their lives, with causes ranging from panic attacks to other factors. In the United States, approximately 27.3% of people experience a panic attack during their lifetime, and about 11% experience them annually. Additionally, 2-3% of Americans develop panic disorder each year. This disorder, which can include recurrent panic attacks, affects women twice as often as men.

How Can Anxiety Cause Chest Pain?

Both panic attacks and anxiety attacks can lead to it. These attacks are similar, though anxiety attacks may be less intense. Anxiety attacks often relate to a specific trigger in someone’s life, while panic attacks can happen without an obvious cause. In both cases, symptoms arise from stress hormones that trigger the body’s fight-or-flight response. This can also cause difficulty breathing and other symptoms. People who experience frequent anxiety or panic attacks may have an anxiety disorder. There are various types, such as generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. To diagnose these conditions, doctors need to confirm that a person’s symptoms match those outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, 5th edition. Researchers aren’t certain about the exact causes of anxiety disorders, but they likely involve a mix of biological, genetic, and environmental factors.

What does Chest Pain due to Anxiety Feel Like?

It is caused by anxiety or panic attacks that often feels like a sudden, sharp stabbing sensation even when a person is inactive. It can occur when they are already feeling stressed or anxious. Common symptoms that accompany anxiety or panic attacks include:

  • Dizziness
  • Feeling faint
  • Shortness of breath
  • Trembling
  • Changes in body temperature
  • Feeling out of control
  • Numbness and sweating in the hands and feet
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations

It is more likely during rapid-onset attacks. According to a 2019 study, about 28.5% of people experiencing a panic attack report it.

Anxiety Chest Pain vs. Heart Attack:

Although heart attacks affect 805,000 people in the United States., each year only 2-4% of those with chest pain who visit a doctor are diagnosed with a heart problem. However, experiencing it can be concerning because it could still indicate a heart attack. It’s important to note that while anxiety-related it, and heart attack pain share similarities there are also significant differences.

  • A heart attack is caused by a blockage in a coronary artery, whereas anxiety or panic attack chest pain often occur at rest.
  • Heart attack pain commonly spreads from the chest to the jaw, shoulders, and arms, while anxiety chest pain typically stays in the chest.
  • Anxiety chest pain may feel sharper, while heart attack pain is often described as squeezing or heavy pressure.

Additionally, panic attacks are more prevalent in women, while heart attacks are more common in men.

What is the Treatment of Anxiety Chest Pain?

  Professionals can greatly improve the lives of people experiencing panic attacks and anxiety. Without treatment, these conditions can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. Mediations and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) have proven effective in treating panic disorders for many individuals. CBT helps individuals restructure their thoughts, identify anxiety triggers, and learn techniques to manage symptoms without medication. There are also steps individuals can take at home to manage and reduce anxiety symptoms, including chest pain. Here are some practices to help cope with a panic attack:

  • Find safe shelter
  • Take deep breaths
  • Remember it is temporary
  • Try to stay positive
  • Count
  • Rate the Attack
  • Also, there are some lifestyle changes a person can make to reduce their risk of symptoms:
  • Exercise regularly
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and smoking
  • Avoiding foods high in refined sugar      

FAQs:

Does gas cause chest pain?

Trapped gas in your upper abdomen can cause intense it. In fact, some people might think they’re having a heart attack when they just need to pass gas.

Why left side chest pain?

Left-side chest pain can be a symptom of problems with your lungs, heart, muscles, and bones, or digestive system. Heart-related pain on the left side can feel strong or sharp and may feel like pressure. You might also experience nausea, which can also be associated with digestive issues that cause chest pain.

How to check heart blockage at home?

These symptoms can include it, shortness of breath, difficulty of breathing, and dizziness. You can monitor your heart health at home by regularly checking your high blood pressure, measuring your heart rate, and taking the stair test. If you notice any changes, inform your doctor immediately.

Which drink is best for the heart?

Water is the best drink for heart health. If you’re thirsty, drink water.

Why do I have a random pain in my chest?

Many things can cause it besides a heart attack, including:

  • Other heart conditions like angina or pericarditis
  • A panic attack
  • A hernia
  • Acid reflux
  • Cholecystitis
  • A collapsed lung
  • A blood clot in the lung
  • Pneumonia

What is stage 1 heart failure?

Stage describes a person who has a high risk of developing heart failure due to family history or personal medical conditions. This stage is also called pre-heart failure.

Does ECG show blockage?

An ECG is a great test for analyzing heart signals and can help detect heart blockages or artery issues, either directly or indirectly.   

Can stress cause chest pain?

Prolonged elevations of another stress hormone, called cortisol, can increase blood pressure, blood sugar, high cholesterol, and triglycerides. For someone living with chronic stress, this can lead to chest pain, irregular heartbeats, shortness of breath, and a higher risk of heart attack and strokes. 

Why is my chest tight?

While the discomfort or pain can be worrying, tightness in the chest is not always a heart emergency. It may be caused by asthma, acid reflux, anxiety, or muscle strain. When the cause is not heart-related the discomfort often goes away on its own. 

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