All About Chest Pain: Symptoms, Causes & More


Chest Pain: Overview

Chest pain may have different kinds of presentation, ranging from a piercing pain to a dull ache. Chest pain varies depending upon the individual and is mostly found pain in the middle of the chest. It can also be a feeling of crushing or burning. In certain cases, the pain travels up the neck into the jaw and then radiates to the back or down one or both arms.

There can be a varied range of reasons for chest pain like heart problems, lung problems, gastrointestinal problems, etc. The most life-threatening causes involve the heart or lungs. Angina is chest pain or discomfort caused when your heart muscle doesn't get enough oxygen-rich blood. It may feel like pressure or squeezing in your chest. The discomfort also can occur in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. It's important to seek immediate medical help.

What are the types of Chest Pain?

  • There are different types of chest pain.
  • Squeezing and tightening pain usually around the breastbone
  • Radiating to the jaws, back or tee.
  • Pain accompanied by anxiety racing pulse or shortness of breath.
  • Sharp pain that worsens with cough or deep breathing.
  • Burning pain is accompanied by Gl symptoms such as indigestion or reflux.

Symptoms of Chest Pain

  • Distress
  • Pain in arms, neck, jaw, shoulder or back along with chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness or weakness (fatigue)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating

Signs of a medical emergency

  • A sudden feeling of pressure, squeezing, tightness, or crushing under your breastbone
  • Chest pain that spreads to your jaw left arm, or back
  • Sudden, sharp chest pain with shortness of breath, especially after a long period of inactivity
  • Heaviness in breathing or o chest
  • Nausea, dizziness, rapid heart rate or rapid breathing, confusion, ashen colour, or excessive sweating
  • Very low blood pressure or very low heart rate

Causes of Chest Pain

  • Indigestion or reflux (stomach acid coming up the throat) can feel like a burning pain in the chest.
  • Muscle strains and irritation in the spaces between the ribs; close the breastbone (costochondritis).
  • Shingles (herpes zoster) can cause chest pain before a skin rash creates.
  • Angina is caused by reduced blood flows to the heart and ordinarily happens when the heart has to work more enthusiastically than expected. There are many types of angina, including microvascular angina, Prinzmetal's angina, stable angina, unstable angina and variant angina.

Heart Related Causes

The cause of heart-related problems caused by chest pain includes:

Coronary Artery Disease:

This is a blockage in the heart's blood vessels that reduces blood flow and oxygen to the heart muscle. This can cause pain known as angina.


This is an inflammation or infection of the sac around the heart. It can cause pain similar to that caused by angina. But it often causes a sharp, steady pain along the upper neck and shoulder muscle.

Musculoskeletal pain after open-heart surgery

Myocardial Infarction: This reduction in blood flow through heart blood vessels causes the death of heart muscle cells. Though similar to angina chest pain, a heart attack is usually a more severe, crushing pain, usually in the centre or left side of the chest and is not relieved by rest. Sweating, nausea, shortness of breath, or severe weakness may accompany the pain.

Myocarditis: In addition to chest pain, this heart muscle inflammation may cause fever, fatigue, fast heartbeat, and trouble breathing.

Mitral Valve collapse:

Mitral valve prolapse is a condition in which a valve in the heart fails to close properly. A variety of symptoms have been associated with mitral valve prolapse, including chest pain, palpitations, and dizziness.

Coronary artery dissection:

This is a rare but deadly condition, which results when a tear develops in the coronary artery. It may cause a sudden, severe pain with a tearing or ripping sensation that goes up into the neck, back, or abdomen.

Respiratory Causes

Pleuritis: The most common causes of pleuritic chest pain are bacterial or viral infections, pulmonary embolism, and pneumothorax. Other less common causes include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and cancer.

Pneumonia or lung abscess: These lung infections can cause pleuritic and other types of chest pain, such as a deep chest ache.

Pulmonary embolism: Pulmonary embolism is more likely following deep vein thrombosis or after being immobile for several days following surgery or as a complication of cancer.

Pneumothorax: Often caused by an injury to the chest, pneumothorax happens when a part of the lung collapses, releasing air into the chest cavity.

Gastrointestinal Causes

Gastrointestinal causes of chest pain

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): GERD, commonly known as acid reflux, occurs when stomach contents move back into the throat. This may cause a sour taste in the mouth and a burning sensation in the chest or throat, known as heartburn.

Esophageal contraction disorders: These are uncoordinated muscle contractions (spasms) and high-pressure contractions (nutcracker esophagus) in the esophagus that can cause chest pain.

Esophageal hypersensitivity: This occurs when the esophagus becomes very painful at the smallest change in pressure or exposure to acid. The cause of this sensitivity is unknown.

Esophageal rupture or perforation: Sudden, severe chest pain following vomiting or a procedure involving the esophagus may be the sign of a rupture in the esophagus.

Peptic ulcers: This is a vague, recurring discomfort as a result of these painful sores in the lining of the stomach or the first part of the small intestine. More common in people who smoke, drink a lot of alcohol, or take painkillers such as aspirin or NSAIDs.

Hiatal hernia: This common problem occurs when the top of the stomach pushes into the lower chest after eating. The pain tends to get worse when you lie down.

Pancreatitis: You may have pancreatitis if you have pain in the lower chest that is often worse when you lie flat and better when you lean forward.

Gallbladder problems: After eating a fatty meal, when you have a sensation of fullness or pain in your right lower chest area or the right upper side of your abdomen, then your chest pain may be due to a gallbladder problem.

Other Causes

Asthma is a common breathing disorder characterized by inflammation in the airways, which can cause Trusted Source chest pain.

When to see a doctor?

On the off chance that your chest pain keeps going longer than a couple of moments and doesn't disappear when you rest or take your angina prescriptions, it very well might be a sign you have a heart attack. Call 022 6767 0202 for emergency help. Treatment of angina is important to start as soon as possible.


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