Chest pain is often associated with heart attacks. However, this is not always the case. It’s important to recognize the different types of pain you can have in your chest and what you should do about the pain. Chest pain should always be taken seriously, but educating yourself on the different types will help to ease your mind.
Types of Chest Pain
Heart Attack: Heart attack pain usually shows up in between shoulder blades, in the left arm, center chest or upper abdomen. It’s often described as feeling like a clenched fist. If you have this type of pain, you should immediately call 911 or go directly to the emergency room.
Angina: This is caused by low blood flow to the heart caused by thickened plaque on the arteries. It’s most often noticed during times when the heart rate is increased. It’s known to feel like a heaviness in the chest. If you believe you may have this, you should see a doctor as soon as possible so they can determine if this is what you have.
Pulmonary Embolism: This occurs when a clot from a lower extremity finds itself stuck in the pulmonary artery of the lung. This causes a decrease in blood flow and oxygen to the body. It manifests as sharp chest pain and shortness of breath. It’s very serious and should be met with immediate medical attention.
Costochondritis: This is when the cartilage surrounding the rib cage becomes infected. The pain can range from mild discomfort to severe. At its most mild, your chest feels tender and at its most intense, it involves extreme chest pain or shooting pain in the upper extremities. You should make an appointment so a professional can determine if there is an infection.
Gallstones: To many people’s surprise, gallstones can cause chest pain. Gallstones are solid masses of cholesterol that form when high levels of fat and bile meet. As they combine, the stones are formed. You will want to make an appointment to rule out gallstones. It can cause chest and back pain.
Heartburn and Acid Reflux: It may surprise you, but heartburn has nothing to do with the heart. Usually after eating, if the lower esophageal sphincter opens too often or doesn’t close tight enough, there will be heartburn or acid reflux. It can be caused by a variety of things such as pregnancy, eating too much or eating certain kinds of foods. You can relieve pain by taking over-the-counter antacids.
Anxiety: If you have anxiety or suffer from a panic attack, you may feel as though you have a heart problem, even though the trigger is anxiety. It can be scary, but finding ways to reduce your anxiety triggers will lessen the number of attacks.
Chest pain is something to never take lightly and being aware of what the signs are can help you take action if this happens to you. If you have questions about previous chest pain or are concerned with your heart health, feel free to schedule a consultation! If you have serious chest pain, always call a doctor or an emergency line immediately.