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Chest pain includes a variety of different pains or aches affecting the chest. The term chest pain describes a single symptom for a number of different medical conditions and issues. It is experienced in a variety of ways including sharp stabbing pains, dull aches, crushing pains and burning pains, to name a few. In some situations, the pain will travel up to the neck, across to one or both arms or will radiate down through the back. Because so many different conditions and issues can cause chest pain, seeking immediate medical help is the best course of action. Diagnosing the true cause of the chest pain is essential because so many complications can occur when the underlying cause is a serious issue.

Causes, Risk Factors and Complications of Chest Pain

The causes of chest pain fall into several categories including heart-related causes, digestive causes, bone and muscle causes, lung-related causes and others. Heart-related causes include: heart attack, aortic dissection, angina and pericarditis. Digestive causes include: swallowing disorders, gallbladder problems, ulcer, pancreatic problems and heartburn. Bone and muscle causes can include: sore muscles, injuries to the ribs, costochondritis and other injuries to the area. Lung-related causes can include: pulmonary hypertension or arterial high blood pressure, collapsed lung, pleurisy or inflammation in the lungs and pulmonary embolism or a blood clot in the lung arteries.

One of the most common alternative causes for chest pain is anxiety or panic attack. Shingles is also capable of causing chest pain as a chickenpox virus reactivation in adults. Because some of the underlying causes for chest pain are extremely serious, such as aortic dissection, collapsed lung and heart attack, it is vitally essential to seek medical help immediately for serious chest pain. Heart and lung-related medical conditions can be fatal if not treated immediately with the right medications and procedures.

Signs, Symptoms and Testsof Chest Pain

Chest pain can occur in a multitude of ways, and each case can lend clues to what type of pain is being experienced. In many cases, it is not related to the heart though it can feel like the heart is being affected. Chest pain associated with the heart typically presents itself as a searing or crushing pain radiating across the shoulders, back, jaw and neck with a concentration in the left arm, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, pressure or fullness in the chest and excessive sweating.

Other types of chest pain will vary in terms of symptoms, but may include difficulty swallowing, a sour taste, food re-entering the mouth, tenderness on the chest or pain that intensifies with deep breathing or a cough. When these symptoms appear in conjunction with those mentioned above, this is an indicator that the problem is not the heart, but something else.

A doctor will prescribe tests to determine the cause of the chest pain. These may include electrocardiogram or ECG, blood tests and a chest x-ray. Numerous other tests will also help in the diagnosis including computerized tomography or CT scan, magnetic resonance imaging or MRI, echocardiogram, coronary catheterization or angiogram and stress tests.

Treatment, Drugs and Preventionof Chest Pain

Treatment of chest pain relies entirely on the cause. Medications that will treat some of the more common causes for this type of pain include: anti-anxiety medications, antacids, blood thinners, clot-busting drugs and artery relaxers. There are also surgical and other medical procedures that can help in the right situation. These include: lung re-inflation, dissection repair, bypass surgery, stents and balloons. These treatment options depend on whether the cause is an arterial blockage, blood vessel blockages, aortic dissection or collapsed lung.