Chest Pain - Its Mild and Severe Sides

Chest Pain - Its Mild and Severe Sides

Imagine a situation where you are resting on a sunny day sipping some beverage and all of a sudden you get a sharp thrusting on the chest. Your totally relaxed state of mind turns ‘oh no’ in a few seconds. 

Although most of the time we think chest pain is a serious problem, it could be quite the opposite.

Highlights

  • Chest pain ranges from mild to severe and most often doesn’t required immediate medical assistance.
  • Milder form of chest pain can occur due to heartburn, stress and ulcers.
  • Severe chest pain such as arising from myocardial infarction indicates that your heart is at fault and you need emergency care right away.

Many people who are evaluated for chest discomfort are diagnosed with the conditions that have nothing in relation to the heart. So it is wise to learn about chest pain and its mild and severe sides for better assessment just in case you come across with such situation.

The milder side of chest pain

Chest pain can happen due to several reasons. Here are some examples that need not necessarily demand immediate medical help.

Acid Reflux or Heartburn

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause your stomach to create excessive acid which is then flowed back to the esophagus resulting in burning sensation in the chest. This chest pain can be mistaken for heart pain which is not the case.

If the chest pain due to acidity is occasional, there is nothing serious about. If you get relief from antacid, it is probably a condition related to heartburn.

Stress

Sometimes when we respond to unusual demands of our mind through our body, we tighten up the muscles. This high level of prolonged stress can cause a number of pains including the chest pain. 

You may experience rapid breathing or intense fear with pain. This is known as anxiety or panic attack.

Chest wall pain

This is absolutely musculoskeletal in nature and nothing to do with heart. The discomfort originates from the structures of the chest wall which is formed by skin, muscles, and ribs. The pain is generally caused by injury, inflammation or infection affecting this structure.

Ulcers

Another potential source of chest pain is peptic ulcer, a common medical problem which is often mistaken for heart disease. When ulcers form in the lining of the stomach or duodenum it can often cause chest pain.

The painful condition can be aptly described as a burning sensation often accompanied by bloating and gas.

Pulmonary problems

Chest pain can also occur due to pulmonary (related to lungs) problems such as asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia. 

In both asthma-induced chest pain and bronchitis induced chest pain, the airways of the respiratory system become inflamed and constricted.

Chest pain arising from pneumonia is either because of muscle strain from uncontrolled coughing or inflammation of the outer lining of the lungs.

The serious side of chest pain

Justice to the topic has to be done by detailing out the other side of the coin i.e. when is the chest pain serious? Several heart conditions can lead to chest pain. We are briefing out some:

Coronary Artery Disease

This condition is the blockage in blood vessels of the heart resulting in the reduced blood flow and required oxygen to the heart muscles. 

This causes chest pain also technically known as angina. Although coronary artery disease does not cause permanent heart damage, it makes you a candidate for a future heart attack.

Myocardial Infarction

Most commonly known as ‘heart attack’ this condition causes reduction in the blood flow and damage to heart muscles. The most common symptom is severe chest pain accompanied by shortness of breath and sweating. In this case, emergency care needs to be given without a second thought.

Pericarditis

Pericardium is a protective sac of the heart. When this protective sac gets inflamed or infected, it can cause pain similar to that of angina. This condition is known as pericarditis. The most classic symptom is chest pain accompanied by steady pain in the upper neck and shoulder muscle.

Coronary artery dissection

This is also a serious but rare heart condition which can develop a tear in the arteries. The condition is also known as aortic dissection causing sudden sharp pain in the chest that often radiates down to the abdomen.

What should we do when chest pain occur?

Chest pain is a loose term which is used to define unusual discomfort in the area of the chest. While in many cases, chest pain turns out to be harmless, this is one of the few reasons why people call for emergency help.

So for better evaluation, seek doctor’s help, especially a cardiologist in order to prevent serious illness that would not only cause a major blow to your health, but also an embarrassment.

Sources

1. Coronary Artery Disease - Coronary Heart Disease(2015, July). American heart association read more
2. Chest pain(2017, August 10). NHS read more
3. Cohn, J. K. (2002). Chest pain. Circulation, 106, 530-531 read more
4. Coronary Artery Disease Symptoms(n.d.). Clevelandclinic read more
5. Heart and Vascular Team(2015, March 18). 3 Types of Chest Pain That Won’t Kill You. Clevelandclinic 
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