As a general principle, you should always have chest pain evaluated by our cardiac and vascular specialists at Memphis Vein Center. Cardiologist Kishore Arcot, MD, quickly runs diagnostic tests, identifies the source of your pain, and initiates the treatment you need.
But chest pain isn’t always associated with a heart problem. Many conditions, from pulled muscles and damaged nerves to gallstones and a lung condition can result in chest pain. That’s why it’s so important to know what sets heart-related chest pain apart.
Never hesitate to call us if you have any questions or need help with chest pain. In the meantime, this blog gives you the rundown on how to recognize when chest pain is a red flag alerting you to a heart problem.
Get help if you have a heart condition
If you have been diagnosed with a heart condition, such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, heart valve disease, congestive heart failure, or a heart arrhythmia, you should always contact us when chest pain develops.
The only exception to calling us for an evaluation would be dialing 911 if you have signs of a heart attack.
Seek medical attention for these symptoms
Your chest pain signals a heart problem when the pain:
Appears slowly and lasts for minutes
Chest pain that develops gradually and lasts for at least several minutes has a high chance of being associated with a heart problem. Any time your chest pain sticks around, you need prompt medical attention.
Chest pain that’s fleeting should be evaluated in our office, but it’s less likely to signal a serious problem that needs emergency care. A sharp, stabbing pain that quickly disappears can be quite painful but typically comes from a problem other than your heart.
Is severe, getting worse, or feels crushing
Chest pain that’s severe or quickly gets worse indicates a serious heart problem and often is a sign you’re having a heart attack.
But a heart attack doesn’t always cause severe pain. In many cases, people experience a crushing sensation or a feeling of tightness or heavy pressure in their chest. These symptoms need immediate emergency care because chest pressure is often a heart attack symptom.
Doesn’t improve when you change position
During a heart attack, you won’t be able to find any position that relieves your chest pain. By comparison, some types of chest pain feel better when you change position. If sitting up, lying down, or bending over ease the pain, chances are the pain is related to a lung problem.
Occurs or gets worse when active
Pain that’s triggered by activity or gets worse with exercise is a sign your heart isn’t getting enough blood, usually due to a blocked artery. Have this type of chest pain evaluated at the Memphis Pain Center.
If the pain improves with rest, you can schedule an office appointment so we can determine the cause of your pain. But if the pain remains when you rest, you need immediate attention.
Persists despite self-medicating
If taking an antacid, deep breathing, or a sip of water makes the pain feel better, it’s probably not a heart problem.
Is accompanied by other symptoms
Chest pain that signals a heart attack is often accompanied by other symptoms. You may experience:
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweats
- Loss of consciousness
- Radiating pain
As the pain of a heart attack continues for several minutes, pain in the center of your chest builds slowly and may radiate to your neck, jaw, or left arm. The pain could also radiate to your shoulders, upper back, or upper abdomen.
Never hesitate to talk with us about chest pain. Call us at our Memphis, Tennessee, office or request an appointment right away using our online tool.