Experiencing chest can be alarming, as it is one of the classic symptoms of a heart attack. While chest pain is no minor issue, it's important to know that it may have a number of other causes. You may experience pain localized around the chest, or it may radiate from the neck to the upper abdomen. The sensation of the pain can vary; it may be aching, burning, dull, sharp, stabbing or squeezing.
Depending on the type of pain and any associated symptoms, your chest discomfort may be due to:
- Heart issues: angina (vascular blockage), coronary artery dissection, mitral valve prolapse, pericarditis (inflammation of the sac around the heart), myocarditis (inflammation of the heart), myocardial infarction (heart attack) or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (heart failure).
- Lung issues: pleuritis (inflammation of the lining of the lungs), pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, pneumothorax (collapsed lung), pulmonary hypertension or asthma.
- Gastrointestinal Issues: acid reflux, esophageal contraction disorders, esophageal rupture, peptic ulcers, hiatal hernia.
- Miscellaneous: gallbladder problems, pancreatitis, muscle strain, rib issues, shingles. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience the following: existing angina becoming more severe; nausea, dizziness, sweating, a racing heart or shortness of breath; pain that spreads to your jaw, left arm or between the shoulder; a sudden squeezing or crush sensation; or a sudden, sharp chest pain with shortness of breath, especially after a period of rest.
For less grave symptoms, promptly call your doctor. You may have some tests performed, such as an electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, angiogram, CT scan, MIR, X-ray, blood workup or a stress test.
A diagnosis will be made based on your symptoms and their severity and your doctor will prescribe the best course of treatment.