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Understanding Chest Pain

Experiencing sudden or unexplained chest pain can cause fear and anxiety. Your first thought may be that you’re having a heart attack. While chest pain is an established symptom of a heart attack, there are several other reasons for chest pain.

The most common causes of chest pain aren’t life-threatening. Nevertheless, you should always take chest pain seriously and visit CA Heart and Vein Specialists for any concerns about your cardiovascular health. Learning about the causes of chest pain can help you avoid complications.

Chest pain unrelated to the heart

It’s true that many causes of chest pain are related to your heart and circulatory system. However, issues that are unrelated to the heart may manifest as chest pain. They include:

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Chest pain is a common symptom of GERD, also called acid reflux. This digestive condition occurs when the acidic contents of your stomach flow backward into your esophagus, causing a burning sensation in your chest and throat. The chest pain associated with GERD is known commonly as heartburn.

If you have chest pain after eating a large meal or after eating spicy, fried, or acidic foods such as orange juice, tomatoes, or onions, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing heartburn.

Gallbladder issues

Chest pain or discomfort is a typical symptom of gallbladder problems. Your gallbladder stores digestive fluid that it releases when you eat fat-containing food. Hard pebble-like stones can develop in your gallbladder and lead to digestive issues that cause abdominal pain and chest pain that may radiate to your back and shoulder.

Chest pain that occurs after eating a fatty meal is a telltale sign of gallbladder issues.

Asthma complications

Asthma can cause your airway to narrow — a tightening of your airway muscles is called bronchospasm — making it difficult to breathe. This can, in turn, cause chest pain. If you have asthma and experience chest pain, it may be related.

Heart-related chest pain

Causes of chest pain that can be related to your circulatory system include:

Angina

This type of chest pain is quite common, affecting roughly 9 million Americans. Angina is caused by reduced blood flow to your heart, and it’s characterized by a squeezing tightness in your chest. Other symptoms that may accompany angina include:

Angina is sometimes difficult to distinguish from other types of chest pain. Because angina is a symptom of coronary artery disease, it’s imperative to have your heart function evaluated by a cardiologist.

Heart attack

A heart attack occurs when there is a blockage in one or more arteries that supply blood to your heart. Most people imagine a sharp, stabbing sensation when they think of heart attack pain. If you have a heart attack you may experience:

It’s important to realize that a heart attack may cause less obvious symptoms, especially in women.

Pericarditis

The pericardium is two thin layers of tissue that surround your heart and keep it stable in its place. Pericarditis refers to inflammation of the pericardium, and chest pain is a common symptom. A number of factors can cause pericarditis, including a viral or bacterial infection.

Pericarditis can happen suddenly, or the condition may be chronic. Managing pericarditis involves treating the underlying cause.

Myocarditis

Myocarditis is an inflammation of your heart muscle. The inflammation can weaken your heart and cause scar tissue to form so your heart must work harder to pump blood through your body. Viral infections are the most common cause of myocarditis. Common symptoms include:

Most people who develop myocarditis can lead full lives after treatment.

Chest pain has numerous causes. Our cardiovascular physician, Dr. Majed Chane, has extensive experience preventing, diagnosing, and treating conditions that affect your heart and blood vessels. You’re in good hands when you visit the team at CA Heart and Vein Specialists.

If you’re experiencing chest pain, Dr. Chane can get to the root of your symptoms and create an appropriate treatment plan. To learn more, call our office in Huntington Beach, California, to schedule an appointment, or request an appointment here on our website.

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