Dr Tendai Zuze Health Matters
At some point in our lives, most of us will get chest pain. This can be a minor on and off sort of pain that’s not really worrying or it can be severe life threatening pain that requires hospitalization. Whatever the scale, chest pain is a problem that frequently requires attention.
When you go to see your doctor about chest pain, you have to be prepared to answer a few questions. Your doctor will want to know, among other things, how and when the pain started, where exactly it is located, the nature of pain and also if there are any other symptoms associated with it. It’s also important to know what aggravates the pain and what makes it better.
After considering the above symptoms, the doctor will have some idea of where the pain might be coming from. He might then ask for a few tests to confirm his suspicions. Some people think an x ray of the chest is essential every time they get chest pain, this is not so. There are many possible causes of chest pain, some of which deserve medical attention. Heart related causes are some of the most significant and should be accorded the urgency they deserve.
- Heart related causes of chest pain include:
Heart attack. A heart attack is a result of a blood clot that’s blocking blood flow to your heart muscle.
Angina. Thick plaques can gradually build up on the inner walls of the arteries that carry blood to your heart. These plaques narrow the arteries and restrict the heart’s blood supply, particularly during exertion.
Aortic dissection. This life-threatening condition involves the main artery leading from your heart — your aorta. If the inner layers of this blood vessel separate, blood will be forced between the layers and can cause the aorta to rupture.
Pericarditis. This condition, an inflammation of the sac surrounding your heart, is short-lived and often related to a viral infection.
Although chest pain is commonly attributed to heart disease, many heart patients experience a vague discomfort and they often specifically mention that pain does not seem to be an adequate description. In general, chest discomfort related to a heart attack or another heart problem may be associated with one or more of the following:
Pressure, fullness or tightness in your chest
Crushing or searing pain that radiates to your back, neck, jaw, shoulders and arms — particularly your left arm
Pain that lasts more than a few minutes, goes away and comes back or varies in intensity
Shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness or nausea
Chest pain can also be caused by disorders of the digestive system, these include:
Heartburn. This painful, burning sensation behind your breastbone occurs when stomach acid washes up from your stomach into the oesophagus — the tube that connects your throat to your stomach.
Swallowing disorders. Disorders of the oesophagus can make swallowing difficult and even painful.
Gallbladder or pancreas problems. Gallstones or inflammation of your gallbladder or pancreas can cause abdominal pain that radiates to your chest.
Some types of chest pain are associated with injuries and other problems affecting the structures that make up the chest wall. Examples include:
Costochondritis. In this condition, the cartilage of your rib cage, particularly the cartilage that joins your ribs to your breastbone, becomes inflamed and painful.
Sore muscles. Chronic pain syndromes, such as fibromyalgia, can produce persistent muscle-related chest pain.
Injured ribs. A bruised or broken rib can cause chest pain.
Many lung disorders can cause chest pain, including:
Pulmonary embolism. This cause of chest pain occurs when a blood clot becomes lodged in a lung (pulmonary) artery, blocking blood flow to lung tissue.
Pleurisy. If the membrane that covers your lungs becomes inflamed, it can cause chest pain that’s made worse when you inhale or cough.
Collapsed lung. The chest pain associated with a collapsed lung typically begins suddenly and can last for hours. A collapsed lung occurs when air leaks into the space between the lung and the ribs.
Pulmonary hypertension. High blood pressure in the arteries carrying blood to the lungs (pulmonary hypertension) also can produce chest pain.
Pneumonia, which is infection in the lungs
If you are worried about chest pain, please visit your doctor.