Monitoring and Treating Heart-Related Chest Pain
Chest pain can be confounding. It can be difficult to discern from a chest pain of no concern and a chest pain with long-term or critical impact on your health. While the chest pains caused by the heart or the lungs are the most life-threatening, it is always safest to see a health care provider to be certain of the source of your chest pain and to be certain of what kind of treatment you need.
Like many other bodily pains, chest pains can vary in intensity, frequency and how long they last. One might experience dull pains or aches to a sharp pain or stabbing pain, or it could feel like burning or a crushing pain. Sometimes chest pain may travel across different parts of the body, from the chest up through the neck, then into one’s jaw before spreading down both arms, or possibly to the back.
When Should I See A Doctor for Chest Pains?
First and foremost: any cause of chest pain requires medical attention.
If you think you are having a heart attack, or have a new or unexplained chest pain, you should immediately call your emergency number – usually 911 in the Unites States. You should never disregard the signs of a heart attack – err on the side of safety. Even though chest pain is not always heart-related, only a doctor can clarify the cause for certain, and it is best to be somewhere equipped in case the pain is an emergency.
Do not drive yourself if avoidable. Have a friend or neighbor drive you if you cannot get an emergency vehicle or ambulance.
Is My Chest Pain Heart-Related?
Depending on the underlying cause, chest pains can manifest in many different ways, and some pains will be similar to others.
Heart-related chest pains that could lead to a heart attack or other conditions are many and varied. Since patients with heart disease have sometimes indicated that they feel a vague discomfort more than pain, it is good to be aware of the types of chest pains and other symptoms that can be related to heart problems:
- Tightness, pressure or fullness in your chest, also a feeling of burning pain
- Shortness of breath
Crushing or searing pain that spreads to your back, neck, jaw, shoulders, and one or both arms
- Chest pain that lasts for more than a few minutes
- Chest pain that gets worse with activity
- Chest pain that leaves and returns, or varies in intensity
- Cold sweats
There are multiple types of heart-related chest pain causes, including:
- Heart attack: When the blood flow to the heart is blocked, frequently by a blood clot, this is a heart attack.
- Angina: When the blood flow to the heart is poor and causes pain, this is Angina.
- Aortic dissection: This occurs when the inner layers of the aorta separate, forcing blood between the layers, which may cause a rupture of the aorta.
- Pericarditis: This is the inflammation of the sac around the heart.
All chest pain should be treated as serious. Consult with a physician and, if necessary, call 911.