(Chest pain (or chest discomfort) is a common symptom that can occur as a result of cardiovascular, pulmonary, pleural, or musculoskeletal disease, esophageal or other gastrointestinal disorders, or anxiety states.)
The frequency and distribution of life-threatening causes of chest pain, such as acute coronary syndrome (ACS), pericarditis, aortic dissection, pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, and esophageal perforation, are vary substantially.
Causes of chest pain
Chest pain has many possible causes, all of which need medical attention.
Examples of heart-related causes of chest pain include:
• Heart attack. A heart attack results from blocked blood flow, often from a blood clot, to your heart muscle.
• Angina. Angina is the term for chest pain caused by poor blood flow to the heart. This is often caused by the buildup of thick plaques 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 (aorta). If the inner layers of this blood vessel separate, blood is forced between the layers and can cause the aorta to rupture.
• Pericarditis. This is the inflammation of the sac surrounding your heart. It usually causes sharp pain that gets worse when you breathe in or when you lie down.
Chest pain can be caused by disorders of the digestive system, including:
• Heartburn. This painful, burning sensation behind your breastbone occurs when stomach acid washes up from your stomach into the tube that connects your throat to your stomach (esophagus).
• Swallowing disorders. Disorders of the esophagus 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.
Muscle and bone causes
Some types of chest pain are associated with injuries and other problems affecting the structures that make up the chest wall, including:
• 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 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 worsens when you inhale or cough.
• Collapsed lung. The chest pain associated with a collapsed lung typically begins suddenly and can last for hours, and is generally associated with shortness of breath. A collapsed lung occurs when air leaks into the space between the lung and the ribs.
• Pulmonary hypertension. This condition occurs when you have high blood pressure in the arteries carrying blood to the lungs, which can produce chest pain.
Chest pain can also be caused by:
• Panic attack. If you have periods of intense fear accompanied by chest pain, a rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, profuse sweating, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness and a fear of dying, you may be experiencing a panic attack.
• Shingles. Caused by a reactivation of the chickenpox virus, shingles can produce pain and a band of blisters from your back around to your chest wall.
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