Chest pain is the most common reason why individuals end up in the emergency department in hospitals all over the world. The pain can vary from one individual to another. It can feel like a stabbing, sharp pain or a dull ache. Even though chest pain can indicate a serious heart-related problem, it can also have other common but life-threatening causes that you have to be familiar with.
Causes of chest pain
Once an individual experiences chest pain, the initial thing that comes to mind is an impending heart attack. Even though chest pain can indicate a possible heart problem, there are also other conditions that can cause chest pain.
- Acid reflux
- Gallstones or the inflammation of the pancreas or gallbladder
- Swallowing difficulties due to problems with the esophagus
- Heart attack
- Viral bronchitis
Muscle/bone related causes
- Compression fracture
- Broken or bruised ribs
- Sore muscles
Always bear in mind that chest pain can be accompanied by other symptoms that will help a doctor confirm a diagnosis. Providing timely emergency care can help save a life in life-threatening cases.
Even though pain is the most common symptom of heart problems, some individuals experience other accompanying symptoms with or without chest pain. The symptoms include fatigue, tightness or pressure in the chest, arm or back pain, abdominal pain, shortness of breath and pain after exertion.
There are also other symptoms that can indicate that chest is not related to heart problems. It includes difficulty swallowing, acidic or sour taste in the mouth, pain that alleviates or worsens based on the body position, pain that worsens when coughing or breathing, hyperventilation, tenderness when the chest is pushed, fever and pain that radiates to the front of the chest.
Seek medical care right away if you suspect an individual is having a heart attack especially if the chest pain arises unusually or persists for more than a few minutes.
During the consultation, the doctor will ask questions in order to diagnose the cause of the chest pain. The individual must share related symptoms experienced as well as medications taken and treatments received.
The doctor will request diagnostic tests such as an electrocardiogram, blood tests, chest X-ray, CT scan, echocardiogram, MRI, stress tests and angiogram.
Chest pain must be treated with medications, surgery, non-invasive procedures or a combination. For heart-related treatments, it can include medications such as nitroglycerin, blood thinners and clot-busting drugs. The doctor performs cardiac catheterization or the surgical repair of arteries.
The common causes of chest pain can be treated easily. Nevertheless, chest pain can also indicate a life-threatening condition. Consequently, if an individual is experiencing a heart attack or other heart issues, it is important to seek medical care right away. Upon deciding on a diagnosis, the doctor provides additional treatment to manage the condition.