Here are the main chest pain causes, and no, it is not always about your heart.
Chest pain is associated with a wide range of life-threatening and non-threatening health conditions, including heart attack, aortic rupture, obstruction of blood flow to the lungs or embolism, panic attacks, and heartburn. Generally, chest pain can be divided into two categories: non-cardiac chest pain, heart-related chest pain.
Heart-related chest pain is often referred to as angina. Several heart conditions that are associated with chest pain include heart attacks, atherosclerosis, and coronary artery spasm.
Non-cardiac chest pain is often associated with lung conditions, physical injury, digestive conditions, and fear or anxiety.
Chest pain or discomfort can occur quickly and in different parts, depending on the root cause. For example, if you feel pressure or smart pains along with shortness of breath, you may have heart-related chest pain. On the other hand, if you experience chest pain, a fast heartbeat, a feeling of fear and sweating, you may have a panic attack. However, medical emergency care is recommended.
A general view of chest pain related to the heart or other causes
Chest pain caused by heart problems
Although chest pain is felt in the chest, many people with heart disease say they experience vague discomfort that is not necessarily known as pain. In general, chest discomfort associated with heart attack or other heart problems may be associated with one or more of the following symptoms:
- Feeling of pressure, fullness, burning or stiffness in the chest area
- Painful pressure or burning pain that spreads to the back, neck, jaw, shoulders, and one or both arms.
- Pain that lasts for more than a few minutes, which is exacerbated by activity, comes and goes, or changes in severity.
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweat
- Dizziness or weakness
- Nausea or vomiting
Other causes of chest pain
It is difficult to distinguish between chest pain from heart problems and other types of chest pain. However, chest pain associated with the following problems does not appear to be related to heart complications:
- Feeling a sour taste or reflux (a return of food to the mouth)
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Pain that gets better or worse as your body changes position
- Pain that worsens during deep breathing or coughing
- Sensitivity when the chest is compressed
- Pain that is present for hours and days
Less serious conditions associated with chest pain include panic attacks and anxiety, stomach ulcers, acute and painful inflammation of the nervous glands, muscle / skeletal damage, heartburn, GERD, gallstones, and esophageal spasm. However, these conditions still need to be properly diagnosed to ensure that the chest pain is not associated with a more serious condition.
Chest pain in depth: Signs and symptoms of chest pain
The signs and symptoms of chest pain are quite extensive. Here are the most common root causes:
Symptoms of chest pain associated with the heart:
Pressure or burning sensation in the chest, back, neck, jaw, shoulders, and one or both arms – a general discomfort that is not necessarily painful – a pressure in the chest – feeling full in the upper abdomen and chest – feeling chest burning – chest tightness – general pain that lasts for more than a few moments and worsens with activity – chest pain that comes and goes – shortness of breath – cold sweats – dizziness – weakness – nausea – vomiting.
Aortic rupture symptoms:
This is a potentially life-threatening condition, although very rare. Contact the emergency room immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms, especially if you have a family history of aortic rupture. Because many of the symptoms of a heart attack are similar to other symptoms, be sure to report any previous aortic rupture or family history to the emergency room:
Pain in the upper back – Shortness of breath – Weakness – Feeling helpless and unable to speak – Difficulty speaking or communicating – Weaker pulse in one arm compared to the other arm – Confusion and dizziness – Dizziness.
Certain lung conditions that become manifest with chest pain may include the following:
Pulmonary embolism: An event in which a blood clot forms in a pulmonary artery and stops blood flow to the lung tissue. Pain from pulmonary embolism is generally associated with rapid or irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, fainting, or dizziness. Contact the emergency room because a pulmonary embolism is life threatening.
Pneumonia or inflammation of the pleura: In this condition, the membrane that covers the lungs becomes inflamed. Deep breathing, coughing or sneezing often causes chest pain.
Pneumonia: Shortness of breath and severe chest pain are common symptoms associated with pneumonia. Pneumonia is often accompanied by other symptoms that indicate infection, such as fever, chills, shortness of breath, and sharp pain that worsens with deep breathing and physical activity such as stair climbing.
Lung damage: The damaged lung due to trauma or other underlying conditions occurs along with shortness of breath and acute chest pain.
Pulmonary hypertension: High blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs and the right side of the heart can cause pulmonary hypertension. Shortness of breath during activity, fatigue, chest tightness or pain, swelling in the legs, ankles or ascites (accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity, which causes abdominal swelling), rapid heartbeat, palpitations, and bluish skin and lips are signs of this potentially life-threatening condition.
Chest pain associated with gastrointestinal problems
Several gastrointestinal conditions, including GERD, indigestion, gallstones, and some pancreatic symptoms, can present with chest pain. In addition to experiencing chest pain, you may experience the following:
Sour taste – reflux – difficulty swallowing or dysphagia – Decreased pain when changing position – Increased pain when coughing or deep breathing – Chest sensitive to touch – Pain persists for several hours – Heartburn – Feeling of pain and burning in the back of the sternum.
Injury: Injury to the chest cavity or excessive pressure on the chest muscles can cause general chest pain that is stagnant, burning, sharp, or resembling electrocution.
Costochondritis: Often associated with fibromyalgia, which can cause pain unrelated to the heart.
This condition is associated with chest pain, sharp or burning pain in the chest wall and rib cage. This pain is often exacerbated by activity or exercise, sneezing, and coughing. The pain can reach the arms and shoulders.
Symptoms associated with anxiety/fear
Chest pain is one of the most common symptoms of a panic attack, and the pain is often accompanied by rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, profuse sweating, severe fear, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, and fear of death.
Shingles is caused by reactivation of the chickenpox virus and can cause chest pain and blistering in the lower back to near the chest wall.
Diagnosis of chest pain
If you go to the emergency room or call (which is recommended), your medical history and family history will be considered in addition to your acute symptoms. To determine the root cause of chest pain, your medical team will order a wide range of tests.
Diagnosis based on cardiac causes:
If your symptoms are related to your heart, your emergency medical team will request a set of tests, including an electrocardiogram (ECG), special blood tests, X-rays, and a CT scan of the chest. If a particular heart condition is suspected, further testing may include:
CT angiography: A color CT scan that examines the arteries of the heart and arteries of the lungs for obstruction and other problems.
Stress Test: Used to measure how the arteries of the heart and arteries respond to pressure. A treadmill, stationary bike, or medication may be used to stimulate the heart to measure its health and strength.
Coronary catheterization (angiography): Used to identify individual heart arteries that may be blocked or narrowed. A liquid dye is injected into the arteries through the ankle or groin. As the color of the joints fills, the medical team can see the blockage and other related discomforts on the X-ray. If there is a suspicious part of the aorta, it is a life-threatening condition that requires specialized testing, including:
Transesophageal echocardiography: Used to take images of the heart to determine if there is a ruptured aorta.
Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA): Used to examine blood vessels and any damage.
Diagnosis of pulmonary factors
When an initial test or medical history shows that your chest pain may be due to a lung problem, more tests will be ordered based on your symptoms.
Testing often begins with blood tests, chest X-rays, CT scans, ultrasound, and ECG. Additional tests may be ordered when the following conditions are suspected.
Pulmonary embolism: Lung angiography to determine if there is a blood clot in the lung.
Pleurisy: A surgical diagnostic procedure such as thoracentesis, thoracoscopy, or pleuroscopy is more likely to be ordered.
Pneumonia: Blood culture, saliva testing, pleural fluid culture, oximetry and bronchoscopy may be performed to determine the type of pneumonia.
Injured lung: Arterial blood gas testing may be ordered
Pulmonary-dependent hypertension: MRI, lung function tests, right heart catheterization, air / perfusion scan, and open lung biopsy may be performed. In addition, genetic guidelines may be recommended for genetic mutations that are often associated with pulmonary hypertension.
Diagnosis of gastrointestinal causes
Heartburn: To diagnose whether heartburn is the root cause of your chest pain, you can have an X-ray of the chest, endoscopy, an acid test, and an esophageal motility test.
Gallstones: If gallstones or a gallbladder problem are believed to cause chest pain, abdominal ultrasound as well as CT, HIDA scan, MRI, ERCP, and various blood tests are recommended regularly.
Muscle / skeletal test
Injury or trauma: To determine if chest pain is associated with physical injury or trauma, you may be tested for physical examination, X-rays, and other imaging tests.
Fibromyalgia: If the pain is believed to be related to fibromyalgia, a complete medical examination and medical history will be performed along with a blood test and a pain test.
Cascandrite: A physical examination will be done to check for swelling and tenderness in the chest. Diagnosis is likely to require an X-ray of the chest, a CT or MRI, and an ECG.
Diagnosis of a panic attack: In addition to a physical exam, a blood test, including thyroid function tests, a psychological evaluation, and an ECG may be requested.
Treatment for chest pain depends on the root cause of the diagnosis.
Chest Pain Natural Remedies and Prevention
1- Quit smoking; especially when your chest pain is related to heart disease or lung disease. Smoking is a major cause of heart disease and heart attack.
When you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease starts to decrease within 24 hours, and it only takes 9 months for your lungs to heal significantly. Within 5 years your arteries and blood vessels begin to expand again, reducing the risk of clots and strokes. After 10 years without smoking, the chances of developing lung cancer are halved. Finally, 20 years after the last cigarette, your risk of developing a cardiovascular disease is the same as that of a non-smoker.
2 – Eat for your health; when chest pain is caused by heart disease, it is vital that you start following a diet that focuses on foods that are healthy for the heart and help lower your cholesterol and blood pressure.
Your diet should include proteins such as salmon, organic meat, and high-fiber foods such as barley, green leafy vegetables, cabbages, whole grain sprouts, artichokes, raspberries, cotyledons, apples and pears.
In a systematic review of clinical trials, researchers found that high-fiber diets reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. Start your day with a healthy bowl of oatmeal that is ready to eat and enjoy a healthy salad with nutrients at lunch. For dinner, enjoy fried trout or a healthy bowl of paprika chicken with coconut oil.
3- Daily exercise; With the approval of your doctor, daily exercise is used to help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, improve heart health, and lose weight.
Walking is a great way to start exercising after diagnosing heart-related causes. Listen to your body and move.
Add 2,000 steps a day to your regular activities. Set 10,000 or 12,000 steps a day to make yourself stronger. The goal is to walk at least 30 minutes each day as fast as you can. To build strength and balance, in addition to walking, add a 10-minute workout at home for your day. And, as you continue to improve your condition, it’s great to add swimming and tennis to your weekly workout program.
4- Avoid common stimulant foods; If your chest pain is related to digestive conditions, avoid foods that include alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, artificial sweeteners, spicy foods, and fried foods. Eat a dense diet that includes lots of fresh, organic vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, and probiotics.
5- Eat three or more meals of magnesium-rich foods, and take 55 mg of selenium daily when your chest pain is related to fibromyalgia. According to a small old study, selenium and magnesium deficiency have been linked to muscle pain in patients with fibromyalgia.
6- Practicing meditation or mental concentration for 30 to 45 minutes a day is effective in relieving stress and anxiety. Stress is a pervasive side effect (or contributing factor) of many chest pain-related illnesses. Finding a way to control it is essential for long-term health.
7- Using lavender oil helps calm the body and mind to eliminate anxiety and improve sleep quality. Researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing have found that inhaling lavender essential oil during sleep increases the quality of sleep.
Precautions: How to know if chest pains are serious
Call the emergency right away if you have severe pain, along with any of the following symptoms for five minutes or more.
Severe or uncomfortable pressure, feeling of pressure, fullness, burning or pain in the center of the chest – pain or numbness in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach – shortness of breath – sudden vomiting or nausea – disorientation, confusion, or dizziness – unusual tiredness – redness – cold sweats – weakness or pain in one or both arms – paralysis – fast or irregular heartbeat – fever.