When it comes to chest pain, heart-related issues are the first things that often come to mind. However, this symptom can stem from a variety of causes, not all of which are related to the heart.
It’s always best to consult with a health care provider when you experience new or worsening symptoms like chest pain. Cardiology specialist Dr. Majed Chane wants patients to know that you can never be too cautious when it comes to heart health.
At CA Heart and Vein Specialists, Dr. Chane has been serving patients in and around Huntington Beach, California, for close to 30 years, and he’s dedicated to excellence in cardiology care. While chest pain is a concerning symptom, you should know that there are causes unrelated to the heart.
Heart-related chest pain
Chest pain is a hallmark symptom of heart problems, including heart attacks and angina. Signs of heart-related chest pain include chest pain accompanied by symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, or lightheadedness.
Heart attack-related chest pain typically feels like an intense pressure or squeezing in the chest, often radiating to the left arm, neck, or jaw. Angina, which is chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart, is usually triggered by physical exertion or stress and goes away with rest.
Gastrointestinal issues are common culprits of chest pain. For instance, acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause a burning sensation or pain in the chest (heartburn), that’s often mistaken for heart trouble.
This type of chest pain typically occurs after eating and might worsen when lying down or bending over. Other gastrointestinal causes include peptic ulcers and gallbladder problems.
Sometimes, the source of chest pain is as simple as a musculoskeletal problem. Strained chest muscles, the result of overuse or injury, can lead to pain that is often mistaken for heart-related issues.
Conditions like costochondritis, an inflammation of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone, can cause sharp pain that is made worse by deep breathing or certain movements.
Respiratory conditions are another common source of chest pain. Pneumonia or lung infections can cause sharp, stabbing pains that get worse with breathing or coughing. Similarly, a pulmonary embolism, which is a blood clot in the lungs, can cause sudden, severe chest pain along with difficulty breathing.
While these conditions are serious, they aren’t related to heart problems but do require immediate medical attention.
Anxiety and panic attacks are known to trigger chest pain, rapid heartbeat, and shortness of breath. These episodes, while extremely distressing, are not signs of heart problems. Addressing the underlying anxiety can help manage these symptoms.
The importance of medical evaluation
Regardless of the cause, you should never ignore chest pain. If you experience chest pain, especially if it's sudden and severe, seek medical attention immediately. A health care provider can conduct appropriate tests to determine the cause and recommend the most appropriate treatment.
Dr. Chane provides patients with a broad range of heart and vascular care, from evaluation and diagnosis to treatment and recovery. For top-quality cardiology care, contact us at 657-206-8491 to request an appointment.