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Chest Pain

Chest Pain

What’s Causing Your Chest Pain?

Although chest pain can be a sign of heart disease, there are a variety of other explanations. While some of these are dangerous, the majority are not. Every year, up to one million adults in the United Kingdom visit their doctor with chest pain.

Chest pain should not be ignored. However, you should be aware that there are numerous possible causes. It is frequently linked to the heart. Chest pain can be caused by a variety of things, including problems with your lungs, oesophagus, muscles, ribs, or nerves. Some of these disorders are dangerous and even fatal. Others, though, are not. The only method to determine the reason for unexplained chest pain is to have a doctor examine you.

Chest pain affects 20 to 40% of the general population worldwide. Learn about the many causes of chest discomfort and the associated symptoms in this article.

 

Symptoms of Chest Pain

From your neck to your upper abdomen, you may experience chest pain. Chest pain can be caused by a variety of things:
  • A tight, squeezing, or crushing sensation
  • Aching
  • Burning
  • Dull
  • Sharp
  • Stabbing

Some of the more prevalent causes of chest pain are listed below.

Heart Problems

These are common chest pains caused by the heart:

Coronary artery disease

Coronary artery disease is also known as CAD. A blockage in the heart’s blood arteries prevents blood and oxygen from reaching the cardiac muscle. Angina is a type of pain caused by this. It’s an indication of heart disease, although it usually doesn’t result in chronic heart damage. It is, however, an indication that you are in danger of a future heart attack. The pain in your chest may radiate to your arm, shoulder, jaw, or back. It could feel like a squeezing or pressing sensation. Exercise, excitement, or mental distress can cause angina, which can be eased by rest.

Myocardial infarction

Myocardial infarction is also known as Ischemic heart disease and more commonly as a heart attack. The death of heart muscle cells is caused by the reduction in blood flow through heart blood channels. A heart attack, however comparable to angina, is a more severe, crushing pain that occurs in the centre or left side of the chest and is not eased by rest. The pain may be accompanied by sweating, nausea, shortness of breath, or acute weakness.

Myocarditis

Myocarditis is heart muscle inflammation that can produce fever, exhaustion, a racing heart, and difficulty breathing, in addition to chest pain. Myocarditis symptoms might mimic those of a heart attack, even if there is no blockage.

Pericarditis

Pericarditis is an infection or inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart. It can induce pain that is akin to angina. However, it frequently results in a strong, constant discomfort in the upper neck and shoulder muscles. When you breathe, swallow food, or rest on your back, it can get worse.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathy with hypertrophy. The cardiac muscle thickens abnormally as a result of this hereditary illness. This can sometimes cause issues with blood flow out of the heart. Exercise can cause chest pain and shortness of breath. When the heart muscle thickens over time, it can lead to heart failure. The heart has to work harder to pump blood as a result. This kind of cardiomyopathy can produce dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, and other symptoms in addition to chest pain.

Mitral valve prolapse

Mitral valve prolapse occurs when one of the heart’s valves fails to shut properly, prolapse can cause a number of symptoms, including chest discomfort, palpitations, and dizziness. However, it can also go unnoticed, especially if the prolapse is minor.

Coronary artery dissection

Many causes can induce a tear in the coronary artery, which leads to this rare but dangerous ailment. It can cause sudden, intense pain in the neck, back, or abdomen, with a tearing or ripping sensation.

Lung Problems

These are common chest pains caused by the lung:

Pleuritis

Also known as pleurisy, pleuritis is an inflammation or irritation of the lungs and chest lining. When you breathe, cough, or sneeze, you are likely to experience acute discomfort. Bacterial or viral infections, pulmonary embolism, and pneumothorax are the most prevalent causes of pleuritic chest pain. Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and cancer are some of the less prevalent reasons.

Pneumonia

Lung abscess or Pneumonia is pleuritic and other types of chest pain, such as deep chest discomfort, can be caused by certain lung infections. Fever, chills, cough, and pus coughed up from the respiratory system are common symptoms of pneumonia.

Pulmonary embolism

A blood clot can cause acute pleuritis, difficulty breathing, and a rapid heartbeat when it travels through the bloodstream and lodges in the lungs. Fever and shock are also possible side effects. Pulmonary embolism is more common after deep vein thrombosis, remaining immobile for several days after surgery, or as a cancer consequence.

Pneumothorax

Pneumothorax occurs when a section of the lung collapses, letting air into the chest cavity, and is frequently caused by a chest injury. This can also result in pain that worsens as you breathe, as well as other symptoms like low blood pressure.

These are common chest pains caused by the heart:

Pulmonary hypertension

Hypertension of the lungs is unusually high blood pressure. The pulmonary arteries cause the right side of the heart to work too harder, causing chest pain similar to angina.

Asthma is an inflammatory illness of the airways that causes shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and sometimes chest pain.

Emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are all examples of this. The condition obstructs air flow by narrowing and destroying the airways that transport gases and air to and from the lungs, as well as the tiny air sacs (alveoli) that carry oxygen to the bloodstream and eliminate carbon dioxide. The most common cause is smoking.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Chest pain can also be caused by gastrointestinal issues, such as:

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

When stomach contents go back into the throat, it is known as acid reflux. Heartburn is characterised by a sour taste in the mouth and a burning feeling in the chest or neck. Obesity, smoking, pregnancy, and hot or fatty foods are all things that might cause acid reflux (GERD). The heart and oesophagus are close together and share a neural network, heart pain and heartburn from acid reflux feel identical.

Oesophagal contraction disorders

Uncoordinated muscle contractions known as spasms and high-pressure contractions known as nutcracker oesophagus are oesophagal abnormalities that can generate chest pain.

Oesophagal hypersensitivity

This occurs when the oesophagus becomes extremely painful in response to even little changes in pressure or acid exposure. This sensitivity has an unknown cause.

Oesophagal rupture or perforation

Sudden, acute chest pain after vomiting or a procedure involving the oesophagus could indicate an oesophagal rupture.

Peptic ulcers

These painful ulcers in the stomach lining or the initial part of the small intestine may cause a vague, persistent ache. Pain that gets better when you eat or use antacids is more common in persons who smoke, drink a lot of alcohol, or take medicines like aspirin or NSAIDs.

Hiatal hernia

After eating, the top of the stomach pushes into the lower chest, causing this typical condition. This frequently results in reflux symptoms such as heartburn or chest pain. When you lie down, the discomfort tends to get worse.

Pancreatitis

If you feel pain in your lower chest that is worse when you lie flat and better when you lean forward, you may have pancreatitis.

Gallbladder problems

Do you have a feeling of heaviness or soreness in your right lower chest area or right upper side of your belly after eating a fatty meal? If this is the case, your chest pain could be caused to a gallbladder condition.

Bone, Muscle, or Nerve Problems

Overuse or an injury to the chest area as a result of a fall or accident can cause chest pain. Viruses can also cause chest discomfort. Chest pain can also be caused by:

Rib problems

Deep breathing or coughing can aggravate the pain of a cracked rib. When you press on it, it is usually localised to one location and may feel sore. Inflammation can also occur where the ribs meet the breastbone.

Muscle strain

Coughing too forcefully can harm or inflame the muscles and tendons between the ribs, resulting in chest pain. The pain tends to persist and can be aggravated with movement.

The varicella-zoster virus causes shingles, which can cause a sharp, band-like pain before a rash forms several days later.

Muscle strain

These are common chest pains caused by the heart:

These are common chest pains caused by the heart:

Other Potential Causes of Chest Pain

Anxiety and panic attacks are also causes of chest pain. Dizziness, shortness of breath, palpitations, tingling sensations, and shaking are some of the symptoms that can occur.

When to see a doctor

If you have chest discomfort, consult your doctor if it comes on abruptly or does not respond to anti-inflammatory drugs or other self-care measures such as modifying your diet.

If you have any of the following symptoms in addition to chest pain, call 999:

  • Under your breastbone, you may feel pressure, squeezing, tightness, or crushing.
  • Pain in your chest that extends to your jaw, left arm, or back
  • Shortness of breath and sudden, severe chest pain, especially after a lengthy period of inactivity
  • Nausea, dizziness, rapid heart rate or breathing, confusion, ashen complexion, or extreme perspiration are all symptoms to look out for.
  • Extremely low blood pressure or heart rate

If you have any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor:

  • Coughing up yellow-green mucous, fever or chills
  • Swallowing issues
  • Chest pain that doesn’t appear to go away
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