The American Heart Association reports that chest pain is one of the top 10 reasons for a trip to the emergency room. In fact, in one recent review of hospital visits, more than 7.5 million people sought emergency care for chest pains. While you never want to disregard pain in your chest, it’s often due to only minor problems. So how can you tell if it’s serious?
At Memphis Vein Center, our board-certified cardiologist, Kishore Arcot, MD, FACC, FSCAI, FSVM, RPVI, understands how scary chest pain can be. When faced with unfamiliar symptoms near your heart, it’s difficult to know what you should do. Is it best to wait and see if your symptoms get worse or rush to the hospital right away?
In this blog, Dr. Arcot shares more about chest pain and outlines some telltale signs you should watch for to determine if your condition might be serious.
Conditions that can cause chest pain
There are a number of medical conditions that can lead to chest pain. Some examples include:
- Anxiety or depression
- Muscle strain
- Collapsed lung
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Hiatal hernia
- Rib injury
Generally, the conditions that can cause pain in your chest are divided into four groups: respiratory, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, and cardiac.
When heart trouble isn’t a heart attack
If the cause of your pain is cardiac in nature, it still may not be a heart attack. Some heart-related conditions mentioned above are:
- Pericarditis, when the tissues around your heart are inflamed
- Cardiomyopathy, which is a heart muscle disease
- Myocarditis, which is inflammation of your heart muscle
These conditions require a diagnosis and a doctor’s care, but they aren’t imminently life threatening like a heart attack or an aortic dissection, which is a tear in your aorta.
To treat cardiac issues before they become serious problems, Dr. Arcot and our skilled team recommend lifestyle changes like weight loss, exercise, and a healthy diet. The goal is to help you stave off the onset of heart disease. He may also design a plan that includes medications or a blood thinner.
When chest pains require immediate attention
Chest pains that indicate a serious problem typically coincide with these symptoms:
- Cold sweats
- Shortness of breath
- Fullness in your chest
- Burning sensation around your heart
Another signature heart attack symptom is pain that radiates down one or both arms and to your shoulders, jaw, and back. If you have any of these symptoms, dial 911 or get to the closest emergency room immediately.
One of the factors that makes it difficult to determine if your symptoms are congruent with a heart attack is that each person experiences the event uniquely. Some may notice several symptoms at once, while another person may only feel pressure or experience shortness of breath.
In an emergency, dial 911. When you’re concerned about your heart health, come into our state-of-the-art Memphis, Tennessee, clinic, where we evaluate your risk and provide complete physical exams, laboratory testing, chest X-rays, and electrocardiogram if needed.
At Memphis Vein Center, we look forward to helping you safeguard your heart health. Call now to set up your consultation, or request an appointment online. We provide in-office and telehealth appointments.