Chest Pain: Causes and Treatment

In medicine, chest pain is a symptom of a number of serious conditions and is generally considered a medical emergency, unless the patient is a known angina pectoris sufferer and the symptoms are familiar (appearing at exertion and resolving at rest, known as “stable angina”). When the chest pain is not attributed to heart disease, it is termed non-cardiac chest pain.

Chest pain is one of the most frightening symptoms a person can have. It is sometimes difficult even for a doctor or other medical professional to tell what is causing chest pain and whether it is life-threatening.

Chest pain and heart attack

Chest discomfort or pain is a key warning symptom of a heart attack. Heart attack symptoms include:

1. Chest discomfort or pain that is crushing or squeezing or feels like a heavy weight on the chest.

2. Chest discomfort or pain that occurs with:
a. Sweating.
b. Shortness of breath.

Causes

causes of chest pain include:

1. Asthma, which is generally accompanied by shortness of breath, wheezing, or cough.

2. Pneumonia, a blood clot to the lung (pulmonary embolism), the collapse of a small area of a lung (pneumothorax), or inflammation of the lining around the lung (pleurisy). In these cases, the chest pain often worsens when you take a deep breath or cough and usually feels sharp.

3. Chest pain is merely a symptom, not a diagnosis. Many medical problems can cause chest pain, and before the chest pain can be adequately treated, the actual underlying cause needs to be identified. The following is a list of the more common causes of chest pain, roughly in order of the frequency in which they are seen in the emergency room.

4. Heart attack. A heart attack can cause pressure, fullness or a crushing pain in your chest that lasts more than a few minutes.

5. Pericarditis. Inflammation of the sac surrounding your heart (pericarditis) causes sharp, piercing and centralized chest pain. You may also have a fever and feel sick.

6. A broken rib can be quite painful, especially when you cough or try to take a deep breath.

7. A blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism), which usually causes deep chest pain with the rapid development of extreme shortness of breath.

Treatment of Chest Pain

Taking care of yourself at home
If your doctor has ruled out serious causes of chest pain, it is likely you will make a full recovery. General self-care suggestions include:

* Follow your doctor’s advice about treatment.
* In the first few days at home, try to take it easy.
* Rest if you feel tired.

Standard treatment begins with coronary angiogram to determine the presence of disease and medication therapy. As disease severity progresses, treatment moves to interventional strategies, such as stents or coronary artery bypass surgery. The majority of patients with coronary artery disease achieve excellent results with these standard therapies.