Chest pain can be caused by various factors that range from muscle pain or a heart attack and must not be ignored. It is vital to call for emergency assistance right away if the individual suddenly develops severe chest pain especially if:
- The pain feels pressing, heavy or tight
- The pain lasts longer than 15 minutes
- The pain radiates to other body parts such as the back, arms or jaw
- There are other symptoms present such as nausea, breathlessness, sweating or coughing up blood
- The individual is at risk for coronary heart disease
In case the discomfort is only minimal or has resolved, it might be suitable to set an appointment with a doctor for proper assessment.
Is there a possible heart problem?
Always bear in mind that chest pain is not always linked to an issue with the heart, but can be an indication of angina or a heart attack.
Both conditions can trigger a heavy, dull or tight pain in the chest area that can radiate to the neck, arms, back or jaw. In addition, other symptoms can also occur such as nausea and breathlessness.
The evident difference between these conditions is that the chest pain due to angina is triggered by physical activity or emotional stress and can be relieved with rest after a few minutes. If the symptoms last more than 15 minutes, persists while at rest and includes symptoms such as vomiting and sweating, it is likely due to a heart attack.
Usual causes of chest pain
Most cases of chest pain are not linked to the heart and not a life-threatening problem. Some of the common causes of chest pain include the following:
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
This is a common condition in which acid from the stomach returns back into the esophagus. The common symptoms of GERD include burning chest pain and an unpleasant taste in the mouth due to the stomach acid that backs up into the stomach.
It is important to note that these symptoms typically occur right after eating and become worse if lying down or bending over. GERD can be managed with lifestyle modifications and even medications if needed.
Anxiety and panic attacks
Some episodes of chest pain can occur as part of an anxiety or panic attack. Aside from chest pain and the overwhelming feeling of anxiety, the attacks can cause other symptoms such as sweating, heart palpitations, dizziness and breathlessness.
If the individual experiences piercing chest pain that becomes worse while breathing in and out as well as accompanied by other symptoms such as breathlessness and cough, it might be due to a condition that affects the lungs or surrounding tissues such as pleurisy or pneumonia.
Bone or muscle problems
In case the chest is sore and tender to the touch, it might be due to a strained muscle in the chest wall. Even though this can be painful, the chest pain can subside with rest and the muscle can heal over time.