Chest Pain Cause

Causes of Chest Pain Image

Many people who experience chest pain immediately attribute their pain to a serious condition, such as a heart attack. While chest pain is a classic heart attack symptom, there are a number of other conditions that can cause a person to experience chest pain.

For example, some people who have chest pain suffer from upper gastrointestinal conditions, such as gastrointestinal reflux disease, or GERD. This condition can cause a person to experience heartburn, which can cause severe chest pain.

Also, a person with chest pain could be suffering from a heart arrhythmia or could have some form of bone damage.

It is important to note, however, that all chest pain should be taken seriously. If you are experiencing unexplained chest pain, especially if it is severe or lasts longer than a few minutes, call 911 or seek emergency medical treatment. Though many causes of chest pain are benign, some, including heart attacks, are life-threatening.

In this section, we’ll discuss the many causes of chest pain. We’ll cover heart attacks as well as aortic dissection. In addition, we’ll provide information on non-cardiac causes of chest pain, including psychological chest pain, chest pain caused by a pinched nerve and more.

Heart Attack

Often, people think the chest pain associated with heart attacks is sudden and intense. While this does occur in some cases, most heart attacks begin with only mild symptoms. Thus, many people ignore the warning signs and wait too long to seek medical help.

Chest pain caused by heart attack usually occurs in the center of the chest and lasts for more than a few minutes. The pain is often described as pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. Interestingly, however, not every person experiences chest pain during a heart attack.

Aortic Dissection

During aortic dissection, the major artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body (the aorta) splits open. This life-threatening condition often causes sudden chest pain. The pain is often described as severe and tearing and is often accompanied by a cold sweat.

A person should seek medical treatment as soon as possible if he thinks he is experiencing an aortic dissection.

Non-Cardiac Chest Pain

Sometimes, people, especially young people, will experience chest pain that isn’t caused by a heart condition. Often, non-cardiac chest pain is caused by an organ that is near the heart, such as the esophagus. Musculoskeletal problems, including muscle inflammation, can also contribute to non-cardiac chest pain.

Upper Gastrointestinal

Often, people who are suffering from gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) will experience heartburn and chest pain.

Heartburn is the most common of the GERD symptoms. It is a painful, burning feeling in the chest that is caused when gastric contents escape into the esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach.

Many people who have been diagnosed with GERD report only mild GERD symptoms.

Though sometimes scary and painful, upper gastrointestinal causes of chest pain generally aren’t life-threatening.

Resources

American Heart Association Staff. (2007). Aortic dissection. Retrieved October 23, 2007, from the American Heart Association Web site: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3005390.

American Heart Association Staff. (2007). Heart attack, stroke and cardiac arrest warning signs. Retrieved October 23, 2007, from the American Heart Association Web site: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3053.

Marks, J. (2003). Gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD, acid reflux). Retrieved October 23, 2007, from the MedicineNet.com Web site: http://www.medicinenet.com/gastroesophageal_reflux_disease_gerd/article.htm.

Cleveland Clinic Foundation Staff. (n.d.). Non-cardiac chest pain. Retrieved October 23, 2007, from the Cleveland Clinic Web site: http://www.clevelandclinic.org/health/health-info/docs/0200/0294.asp?index=4900