Chest pain has many possible causes, all of which need medical attention.
Examples of heart-related causes of chest pain include:
Chest pain can be caused by disorders of the digestive system, including:
Some types of chest pain are associated with injuries and other problems affecting the structures that make up the chest wall, including:
Many lung disorders can cause chest pain, including:
Chest pain can also be caused by:
Risk factors for atherosclerotic heart disease (also known as coronary artery disease)
Risk factors for pulmonary embolus (blood clot to the lung)
Risk factors for aortic dissection
Chest pain can cause many different sensations depending on what's triggering the symptom. Often, the cause has nothing to do with your heart — though there's no easy way to tell without seeing a doctor.
Although chest pain is often associated with heart disease, many people with heart disease say they experience a vague discomfort that isn't necessarily identified as pain. In general, chest discomfort related to a heart attack or another heart problem may be described by or associated with one or more of the following:
It can be difficult to distinguish heart-related chest pain from other types of chest pain. However, chest pain that is less likely due to a heart problem is more often associated with:
The classic symptoms of heartburn — a painful, burning sensation behind your breastbone — can be caused by problems with your heart or your stomach.
Chest pain doesn't always signal a heart attack. But that's what emergency room doctors will test for first because it's potentially the most immediate threat to your life. They may also check for life-threatening lung conditions — such as a collapsed lung or a clot in your lung.
Some of the first tests your doctor may order include:
Depending upon the results from these initial tests, you may need follow-up testing, which may include:
Treatment varies depending on what's causing your chest pain.
Drugs used to treat some of the most common causes of chest pain include:
Procedures to treat some of the most dangerous causes of chest pain include:
Many deaths can be prevented because coronary heart disease is related to certain lifestyle aspects, according to the American Heart Association. However, certain factors beyond our control, like family history and age, increase our risk for heart disease. Some controllable risk facts are:
The American Medical Association says smoking is responsible for one in four cases of cardiovascular disease. Quitting smoking can be the most important thing you do for your heart and blood vessels. There are smoking cessation classes available through Trinity Health System.
The American Heart Association says obesity increases your risk of heart disease, even if you have no other risk factors. Maintaining a healthy weight through a low-fat and low-cholesterol diet can reduce your risk of heart disease. Be aware of the amount of fat and saturated fat in foods, especially processed foods. Learn to read food labels and ask your doctor or registered dietitian how to limit the total amount of fat in your diet to no more than 30 percent of your total calories.
Regular aerobic activity plays a significant role in preventing heart and blood vessel disease. You don't have to spend hours every day at the gym either. Even a 30-minute walk, three or four times a week, can be beneficial.
Sometimes, high blood pressure can be controlled through lifestyle changes like having a healthy weight, increasing physical activity, reducing sodium intake, avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol only in moderation. Your doctor may decide, however, that -- along with diet and lifestyle changes -- medication is needed as well.
According to the American Dietetic Association, cholesterol is not generally found in plant foods. Vegetables, fruits, grains and cereals are usually healthy choices - provided you don't load them up with high-fat sauces and dressings. When choosing animal protein foods, look for ones that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol, like the leanest cuts of meat, poultry without the skin, most fish, skim milk, and low- and non-fat dairy products. If you have a high level of cholesterol that can't be brought down by diet or exercise. your doctor might prescribe medication.