From heartburn to a heart attack, pain in your chest can develop for a wide range of reasons, some far more serious than others. Since your chest houses several critical organs, including your heart, your lungs, and the upper portion of your digestive tract, it can be difficult to discern where your chest pain may originate, so we decided to focus on heart-related chest pain here.
As cardiovascular experts, Dr. Farhad Aduli and the team here at Louisiana Heart and Vascular understand the many conditions that can lead to angina, which is the medical term for heart-related chest pain.
In the following, we take a look at five of the more serious issues that can lead to chest pain and the steps that you should take.
This type of chest pain comes on quickly and may also be accompanied by:
If you or a loved one is experiencing chest pain along with any of the symptoms we describe above, please seek help immediately and call 911.
The most common cause of angina is coronary artery disease (CAD), which affects more than 18 million people aged 20 years or older in the United States.
Coronary artery disease occurs when cholesterol and other substances build up along the walls of your arteries, forming plaques that restrict the flow of blood in your body.
The chest pain that accompanies CAD is less severe than that which often accompanies a heart attack. In fact, it’s often described as chest discomfort. Along with the angina, you may experience weakness, lightheadedness, and shortness of breath, again less severe than during a heart attack.
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s important that you come see us as soon as you can, so we can take the steps necessary to help your blood flow more freely. Coronary artery disease is one of the leading drivers of heart attacks, so prompt action is paramount.
If the tissue surrounding your heart is inflamed, it can lead to chest pain or discomfort that’s often described as stabbing or shooting. Called pericarditis, the discomfort in your chest can also worsen when you lie down or cough.
Pericarditis often resolves itself on its own, but if your symptoms persist, we urge you to come see us so we can properly diagnose and treat the problem.
If a blood clot (usually from your leg) travels to a blood vessel in your lung, it can block the flow of blood and lead to the same symptoms of a heart attack, which makes this condition more difficult to identify.
That said, there are some subtle distinctions, such as chest pain that worsens with each breath. As well, shortness of breath is almost always present when you have a pulmonary embolism. You may also cough up blood.
As you can see by this list of symptoms, it’s important to seek help straight away for a pulmonary embolism.
Thankfully, this cardiovascular problem is relatively rare and occurs when there’s a split in your aorta, which allows blood to leak out. The symptoms are quite similar to a heart attack and include:
An aortic dissection is a medical emergency and you should dial 911 immediately.
The bottom line is that chest pain of any kind is cause for concern. If the situation is an emergency — such as if the chest pain comes on suddenly — call 911. Outside of an emergency situation, you should come in for a cardiology consultation to see what’s going on.
If you have more questions about the many causes of chest pain, we invite you to call 985-231-5713 or book an appointment online with Louisiana Heart and Vascular. We’re located in Covington, Louisiana, and we also serve patients from Mandeville and Slidell.