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Does chest pain always mean a heart attack?
19 Feb 2022
Does chest pain always mean a heart attack? image

The term “chest pain” itself can be scary. Even a slight discomfort in the chest can raise concerns and worries in our minds. Will it be a heart attack? Is it going to happen now? Hundreds of questions arise within seconds and at the end of the day, it might be just heartburn or a muscle strain.

Remember that not all chest pain is a heart attack and it is not important that every heart attack should accompany chest pain. Studies have shown that a heart attack doesn’t always include chest pain so it is important to know the difference between a heart attack and other cardiac conditions.

First of all, understand you can have chest pain because of several other reasons like a,

  • Respiratory condition
  • Issues regarding digestion
  • Tension in bones and muscles
  • Other aspects of physical and mental health

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack is a medical emergency. A heart attack usually happens when a blood clot prevents blood flow to the heart. Tissue loses oxygen and dies when it is deprived of blood.

Your heart muscle requires oxygen to survive when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is drastically decreased or entirely cut off, the heart muscle dies, causing the heart and circulatory system to malfunction.

This usually occurs because the coronary arteries that provide blood to the heart muscle might get restricted due to a deposit of fat, cholesterol, and other substances known as plaque. 

How do I know if my chest pain is serious?

Consult your doctor if you have any chest pain, especially if it starts suddenly or is not relieved by anti-inflammatory medications or other self-care methods such as dietary adjustments.

Your chest pain can be serious if you experience symptoms like:

  • A sudden tight squeezing sensation of pressure under your breastbone.
  • Begins with a pain in the chest and spreads to your jaw, left arm, or back
  • A sudden sharp chest pain with shortness of breath.
  • Nausea
  • Excessive sweating and dizziness,
  • Rapid heart rate and breathing and confusion
  • Very low blood pressure and heart rate

What are the common non-cardiac causes of chest pain?

Aside from heart problems, there are numerous other causes of chest pain. The heart is merely one of several organs in the chest. Other body parts located in the chest area may possibly be the source of your chest pain. 

A few examples are:

  1. Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  2. Other causes include muscle or bone problems
  3. Lung conditions
  4. Stomach problems
  5. Stress
  6. Anxiety,
  7. Depression.

Moreover, pain can even occur due to issues from regions other than the chest, such as the gallbladder, pancreas, or spine, which can cause chest pain. Anxiety or panic episodes can also be cause chest pain

Should I worry about chest pain that comes and goes?

If you have recurrent chest pain, in the first place make sure you consult a doctor. They must analyze and accurately diagnose your illness and the severity of your condition for you to receive adequate treatment if necessary.

 Keep in mind that chest pain also sometimes indicates more serious conditions, such as a heart attack or stroke.

When to see a doctor

Because chest pain is one of the symptoms that might be related to life-threatening emergencies, it is never a bad idea to seek medical assistance for it.

In general, it is strongly advised to seek medical assistance if you are experiencing chest pain. Serious or life-threatening causes of chest pain usually develop suddenly and do not improve on their own so if the chest pain occurs at rest, becomes more severe, or lasts for an extended period, it is essential to seek emergency medical assistance.

Shortness of breath, fainting, weakness, dizziness, fever, and blood coughing are all signals that you should seek medical treatment, hence some chest pain is not constant and can repeat regularly over time.

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