When we think of chest pain, we think of heart attack or other heart problems… whereas in reality, the chest pain could be due to a minor problem, such as indigestion. Other than heart problems, there are various causes for chest pain such as GERD, Costochondritis, and Breast Cancer etc. Chest pain also can be of many types; it can be a sharp stabbing pain, it can be a spasmodic type of pain; it can be localized to one region or it can radiate to other body parts, such as neck, arms etc.
In our CHEST PAIN INFORMATION CENTER, we have covered many causes, types, and treatment options for chest pain. So read on to increase your knowledge about chest pain, in that it does not necessarily mean a heart problem.
Given below are some snippets of what we have covered, for more detailed read, please refer to our CHEST PAIN INFORMATION CENTER on the side menu.
Chest pain is a feeling of tightness or pressure or discomfort felt in the anterior side of the body; in the region between the neck and upper abdomen. There is a misconception that chest pain means that it has something to do with the heart; so to that interest we have given many causes for chest pain other than the often thought heart problem….you will be surprised to know the variety of reasons or conditions which can result in chest pain. Chest pain denotes other underlying medical conditions in a person. These medical conditions could be life threatening (myocardial infarction) or could be due to mild and non cardiac causes (GERD, depression, panic attacks etc.). The following are the classification of chest pain:
There Are Two Types Of Chest Pain:
Cardiac Chest Pain:
Non Cardiac Chest Pain:
- Herpes Zoster
Causes of cardiac chest pain are: CAD, aortic stenosis, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, dissecting aortic aneurysm, pericarditis, dissecting aortic aneurysm and mitral valve prolapse and coronary artery spasm. Causes of non cardiac chest pain are: GERD, esophagitis, esophageal perforation, esophageal spasm, pancreatitis, peptic ulcer, reflux esophagitis and cholecystitis.
- Pulmonary causes, such as pneumothorax, pneumonia, pulmonary bronchitis, embolism, hemothorax, and emphysema.
- Musculoskeletal causes, such as rib fracture, costochondritis, and myalgia.
- Herpes zoster is also one of the causes for acute chest pain.
- Other associated symptoms of chest pain depend on the underlying condition and include: For Heart Attack: Pain in the mid to left chest side, pain radiating to the left shoulder, left arm, jaw, stomach, back, dyspnea, excessive sweating, nausea, and vomiting, heartburn, sweatiness, lightheadedness, dizziness and unexplained fatigue.
- Aortic dissection symptoms are: Abrupt chest pain, radiating to the back, dyspnea, fainting, pain in the abdomen, and stroke symptoms.
- Pulmonary embolism symptoms are: Acute dyspnea, rapid breathing, acute pain in the mid chest etc.
- Pneumothorax symptoms are: Abrupt onset of shortness of breath, stabbing chest pain, tachycardia, dizziness, and fainting.
- In Pericarditis the pain is often sharp or stabbing in the center of the chest, and aggravates upon breathing.
- Mitral valve prolapse may not have symptoms; however, some people may experience chest pain, palpitations, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and/or fatigue.
- Pneumonia symptoms comprise of forceful coughing leading to chest pain.
- Symptoms of GERD include: Heartburn, dysphagia, excessive salivation, chest pressure, profuse sweating, nausea, hoarseness, or persistent dry cough, vomiting, sore throat, bitter taste in the mouth or throat.
Investigations For Diagnosing The Cause Of Chest Pain Include:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
- Stress test
- Cardiac catheterization
- Chest x-ray
- Transesophageal echocardiography
- CT scan.
- Ventilation-perfusion scan (V/Q scan)
- CT scan of the lungs
- Serial ECGs
- Blood tests
Treatment for chest pain depends on the underlying condition and is done accordingly. For more information on chest tightness, please refer to our side menu where you can read everything about chest pain, its causes, and different treatment options under our CHEST PAIN INFORMATION CENTER.
Angina is a type of chest pain occurring due to reduced or deficient blood supply to the heart muscles.
The Different Types Of Angina Are:
- Stable Angina Pectoris
- Unstable Angina Pectoris
- Microvascular Angina Pectoris
The main cause of angina is coronary artery disease or CAD. Risk factors include smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, family history of premature heart disease, obesity and sedentary lifestyle.
Symptoms comprise of chest discomfort felt as pressure, heaviness, tightness, squeezing or choking sensation. Angina is often brought on by heavy physical exertion, mental stress and is often relieved by rest and /or medication.
Tests For Confirming The Diagnosis Of Angina Are:
- CT scan calcium scoring
- Ultrafast CT scanning
- Exercise Treadmill Test
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG)
- Coronary angiogram
- Stress echocardiography
- Stress thallium
- Cardiac catheterization
- Thallium scintigram
- Sestamibi scintigram.
Treatment comprises of trying to manage or relieve the symptoms and to halt the progression of disease and preventing further anginal episodes. Treatment consists of rest, medications (nitroglycerin), beta-blockers (acebutolol, atenolol), calcium channel blockers (amlodipine, bepridil) etc.
For more details on Angina please read under our CHEST PAIN INFORMATION CENTER on our side menu.
Cancer originating in the mammary glands is termed as breast cancer. Women are at a higher risk for developing this cancer than men. Causes are genetic mutations in the DNA of the cells leading to rapid division and accumulation of the cells resulting in formation of mass or tumor.
The different types of Breast Cancer are: Invasive breast cancers and In situ breast cancers (noninvasive types).
Risk Factors for Breast Cancer Include:
- Being a woman.
- Old age.
- Family history of breast cancer.
- Having certain genetic mutations like BRCA1 and BRCA2.
- Previous history of breast cancer.
- Previous history of Hodgkin's disease or other cancers.
- Women with dense breasts.
- Benign breast conditions, such as atypical hyperplasia etc.
- Radiation treatment for other cancers.
- Women who haven't given birth to their first born before 35 years of age.
- Using birth control pills or HRT.
- Women who started their menstruation early or who have reached menopause late.
- Women who haven't breastfed.
- Women who live sedentary lives after menopause.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer are: Appearance of a lump or mass in the breast, nipple discharge, swelling, redness and skin changes in the breast. Stages of Breast Cancer are: Stage 0, Stage I to IV.
Investigations For Diagnosis Of Breast Cancer Are:
- Screening mammography
- MRI scanning
- Hormone receptor status
Treatment comprises of surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy and targeted therapy.
For more detailed read, please read under our CHEST PAIN INFORMATION CENTER on our side menu.
Costosternal syndrome is a condition where there is inflammation of the cushion like cartilage which connects the rib to the breastbone causing sharp pain in the costosternal joint. The exact cause is not clear; however, probable causes are Injury, strenuous exercise, heavy lifting, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, osteoarthritis, joint infection, tumors. Symptoms of Costosternal Syndrome consist of Pain, tenderness on the left side of the sternum, worsening pain upon deep breaths or coughing, difficulty in breathing. Treatment is done by medications like OTC pain relievers, NSAIDs, narcotics, antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs. Treatment is also done by undergoing Physical Therapy including Stretching Exercises, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) unit etc. Surgery is done when conservative measures fail.