Chest Pain

Millions of people are getting hospitalized due to chest pain. Well, what is chest pain? Or what is the cause of that chest pain? There are multiple conditions besides heart attack that can cause chest pain, from pancreatitis to pneumonia or panic attack. Chest pain could be as simple as a burning sensation due to acidity or complicated enough to be life-threatening. Chest pain could be because of a preexisting cardiac or non-cardiac condition. Most of the time, chest pain is associated with the cardiac condition such as Angina, a warning sign of a heart attack. People suffering from angina might have to undergo a procedure (revascularization). There are other causes such as a blood clot in the lungs (pulmonary embolism); or chest pain that occurs when the heart is not getting oxygen-rich blood during physical action or emotional stress.

A person can have a heart attack but might have different symptoms from another person. Some people feel sharp chest pain, while others might feel back pain or jaw pain; some can have symptoms like extreme fatigue or breathlessness.

Cardiac Chest Pain

Cardiac Chest Pain or “cardiac equivalent symptoms” can be if you feel:

  • Shortness of breath on exertion
  • Sudden onset of shortness of breath at rest
  • Sudden nausea or vomiting or abdominal pain
  • Sudden onset of lightheadedness or dizziness or feel like passing out
  • Uncomfortable pressure, heaviness, squeezing, fullness, burning, tightness or pain in the center of the chest.
  • Unusual fatigue, difficulty sleeping or uncomfortable feeling
  • Pain, numbness, pinching, prickling, or other uncomfortable sensations in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach

Here is the tricky part, how to describe your chest pain? To determine whether the chest pain is cardiac or related to a heart attack or impending heart attack, the doctor will need other information about medical history in addition to the symptoms you are having. A doctor can ask you the following common questions to assess chest pain so be prepared to answer them:

  • What provokes the pain, and what makes it better or worse?
  • When the pain started, and what were you doing?
  • Can you describe the pain? Is it sharp, dull, burning, stabbing, crushing?
  • Does the pain radiate to other body parts?
  • Have you had a similar pain previously?

The assessment of the chest pain is necessary regardless of your age or fitness level. Call your doctor for the chest pain assessment or get a referral to a cardiologist.