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Tags: Heart Disease | chest | pain | serious | causes

Serious Chest Pain Causes: Here's When to Worry

Serious Chest Pain Causes: Here's When to Worry
(Copyright DPC)

By    |   Tuesday, 10 October 2017 12:06 PM

Having unexplained chest pain? It’s natural to immediately worry that you’re having a heart attack, but there are plenty of other disease and conditions that can trigger this symptom.

Some of them, like pulling a muscle, are more of a nuisance than a medical emergency. But in some cases — such as heart attack — chest pain may be both the first and last symptom a person experiences?

So how can you tell the difference and when should you worry? According to leading cardiologists, if you’re having chest pain and you’re not sure what’s causing it, call your doctor or 911.

Dr. Christine Jellis, a cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic, told health.com that she would much rather let someone know — and find out that it’s nothing to worry about — than have someone come to her too late and with permanent damage.

“I know of one person who died and the last thing in their search bar was ‘heart attack symptoms,’ ” added Sharonne Hayes, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Here are six conditions, other than a heart attack, that can cause chest pain.

Heartburn. Gastroesophageal reflux happens when your stomach contents back up into the esophagus, the tube that connects the throat and stomach. The reflux includes the gastric acids that help break down food, which are highly acidic.

The acidity of the fluid causes the burning sensation behind your breastbone. Gastric acid falls somewhere on the PH scale between battery acid and vinegar. While our stomachs are lined with protective membranes to prevent the corrosive effect of acid, our esophagus isn’t.

Occasional reflux is usually nothing to worry about, but if you’re experiencing it twice a week or more you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD can cause asthma, chest congestion and a condition called Barrett’s esophagus if left untreated. It can also lead to esophageal cancer.

Muscle strain. A strained chest muscle can be confused with something more serious, like a heart attack. “I had a patient who came in with chest pain and he was worried he was having a heart attack,” said Jellis. “After taking his history, I learned he had moved to a new house and hadn’t lifted heavy furniture in years. But he did the right thing, coming in.”

Jellis said a good rule of thumb is to press on the wall of your chest and see if the pain increases. If it feels even more painful, it’s likely to be a muscle injury.

Costochondritis. This condition is caused by inflammation where the rib bone meets up with the cartilage. It accounts for 13-36 percent of adults who show up to an emergency room with acute chest pain, according to a 2009 review in the journal American Family Physician.

The cause can range from viral infections to chest injuries. Symptoms include a type of pressure on the chest all and a tenderness when they press on the area.

“A physician is going to want to rule out cardiac and other serious issues first,” said Jellis. “It’ll most likely be a diagnoses of exclusion.” The pain caused by costochondritis normally goes away after a few days or weeks.

Shingles. The first symptoms of shingles include itching and burning skin. If the area over the chest is affected, someone might mistake the pain for a heart attack, according to cardiologist Salman Arain.

If you think you have shingles, call your doctor right away, who can prescribe antiviral medications to lessen the pain and shorten the duration of symptoms.

Pericarditis. This condition is marked by inflammation in the layers of tissue that surround the heart, and can cause a sharp stabbing pain. Respiratory infections are often the culprit, but pericarditis can also be caused by autoimmune disorders like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Arain says pericarditis is usually benign and will clear up in a few days or weeks just by resting and taking over-the-counter pain medicine.

Pancreatitis. Acute pancreatitis, the sudden inflammation of the pancreas, causes acute chest pain similar to a heart attack.

“Intense abdominal pain can radiate up to the chest,” said Arain. “And the pain from pancreatitis is usually a deep-seated, intense pain.”

Pancreatitis is often triggered by gallstones. If you think you have pancreatitis you should seek medical attention right away.

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Chest pain is a key symptom of heart trouble, but it can also be caused by other diseases and conditions. But because chest pain can be both the first and last symptom a heart attack sufferer experiences, you need to take it seriously. Here's how to know when to worry.
chest, pain, serious, causes
Tuesday, 10 October 2017 12:06 PM
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