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The Many Causes of Chest Pain

Though you may develop chest pain from any number of causes, it’s not a symptom you should ignore, says the Cleveland Clinic. Your chest discomfort may be a sign that you’re having a life-threatening cardiac event. But, it may also be indigestion.

Here at Memphis Vein Center, we specialize in finding the root cause of chest pain. Our board-certified cardiologist Dr. Kishore Arcot wants you to know what may be the underlying cause of your discomfort and what you should do about it.  

Is this chest pain?

Given the seriousness of a symptom like chest pain, you may wonder what that type of pain feels like. In general, chest pain includes any discomfort you experience in your upper back, lungs, or ribs, as well as the center of your chest. 

The type and severity of your pain may vary. Your chest pain sensations may be:

Your chest pain may also extend to other parts of your body, such as your arms, shoulders, or neck. According to the American Heart Association, radiating chest pain may be a sign you’re having a heart attack and you should immediately call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. 

The many causes of chest pain

Though often associated with heart conditions, your chest pain may develop from problems with your digestive system, lungs, or musculoskeletal system. 

The many causes of chest pain include:

Cardiac problems

A heart attack is one of the most serious causes of chest pain. It occurs when there’s a blockage in a flow of blood to your heart, which damages the muscle. Chest pain during a heart attack may be severe and crushing. You may also feel sweaty and lightheaded. 

You may also develop intermittent chest pain during exercise if your heart isn’t able to get enough oxygen rich blood. This type of chest pain is called angina and may be a sign of coronary artery disease. 

Pericarditis (inflammation of the membrane that surrounds your heart) and an aortic aneurysm are also cardiac problems that cause chest pain.

Lung problems

Your chest pain may also be a symptom of a lung problem, such as pneumonia or a collapsed lung. Early signs of a pulmonary embolism, which is a life-threatening condition that requires emergency medical care, may include chest pain. 

Digestion problems

Digestion problems, such as acid reflux or gallstones, are common causes of chest pain too. 

Musculoskeletal system problems

You may also experience chest pain from a broken rib or a muscle strain. 

Your chest pain isn’t limited to physical conditions. If you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks, chest pain may be one of the symptoms you experience with these mental health conditions. 

Finding the cause of your chest pain

Though chest pain can develop from many causes, you shouldn’t dismiss your discomfort as a non-issue. Even if your chest pain isn’t related to a problem with your heart, we can perform a number of tests to confirm or rule out a cardiac condition, such as an electrocardiogram, chest X-ray, and lab work.

If the results of these preliminary tests are inconclusive, we may recommend other diagnostic tests such as a stress test or an echocardiogram. 

Treating your chest pain

Treatment for your chest pain depends on the underlying cause. For heart conditions, we use a combination of lifestyle changes and medications to improve heart health and reduce your discomfort.  

If the diagnostic testing indicates your chest pain is due to blockages in your blood vessels, we may recommend surgery to open the blocked areas and improve blood flow. 

Whether from indigestion or angina, chest pain isn’t a symptom you should ignore. To schedule an evaluation with our experienced team, call the office or request an appointment online today. 

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