Skip to main content

Why You Should Never Ignore Chest Pain, Even if You Think It’s Nothing

It’s not easy to tell whether chest pain is harmless or life-threatening. Each year, close to 800,000 American adults suffer a heart attack — and in many cases, it’s preventable. If you’ve ever felt a sudden pain in your chest and were convinced it was a heart attack only to learn that it was a strained muscle, you may wonder just how to tell when chest pain is serious.

The truth is, while chest pain is often harmless, you should never ignore it. Here’s why it’s vital to visit a doctor if you experience any type of chest pain.

Take charge of your heart health

Despite medical advancements, heart disease remains the No. 1 cause of death among Americans. You’re more likely to suffer a heart attack if you have risk factors like high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, and a family history of heart disease.

At CA Heart and Vein Specialists, our highly qualified team works with you to address a wide variety of cardiovascular issues to help keep your heart and circulatory system as healthy as possible. Learn what different types of chest pain could mean and why it’s important to see a doctor if you ever experience chest discomfort.

Less serious chest pain


While it’s true that something as simple as having acid reflux after eating a spicy meal can cause chest pain, it’s still important to have a doctor check things out. Acid reflux is a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and often presents as a burning or squeezing sensation.

Because severe heartburn and chest pain from a heart attack can feel similar, it’s wise to see a doctor to rule out a heart attack or serious circulatory issue. Chest pain caused by heartburn often occurs after eating, presents with a sour taste in your mouth, and is typically worse when lying down. Even if you suspect your chest pain is related to GERD, your doctor can run the appropriate tests to rule out something more serious.


Angina is the term for chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart. This type of chest pain is difficult to distinguish from a heart attack. Angina can cause your chest to feel tight and heavy, and you even may feel a crushing sensation. Stress, heavy lifting, and strenuous physical activity can trigger angina.

Because it is often a sign of coronary artery disease, it’s always a good idea to visit a specialist if you suspect that you have angina. The providers at CA Heart and Vein Specialists can diagnose your condition and help you make key changes that can lower your risk of developing a heart attack.

Symptoms of less serious chest pain

Chances are you aren’t having a heart attack if you experience:

Warning signs of a heart attack

While most aches and pains are no cause for concern, some symptoms require immediate medical attention. Keep in mind that heart attack symptoms vary from person to person. Some heart attacks come on suddenly, while others cause more gradual symptoms. Call a doctor immediately if you experience chest pain accompanied by:

Control risk factors to protect your heart

Keeping your risk factors in check is a powerful way to reduce your chances of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. If you have diabetes, it’s crucial to keep your blood sugar within a target range. Controlling your blood pressure if you have hypertension is also key to protecting your circulatory system.

When uncontrolled, both conditions can cause damage to vessels that supply blood to your heart, brain, and other areas. Taking steps to bring your cholesterol within a safe range also helps keep heart disease at bay. Additionally, sticking to a nutritious, well-rounded diet plays a role in protecting heart health.

When it comes to your heart, it’s always wise to err on the side of caution. To learn more about cardiovascular care at CA Heart and Vein Specialists, call our office in Huntington Beach, California, or request an appointment online.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Can I Get Hypertension in My 20s?

High blood pressure isn't exclusive to older adults. As hypertension becomes increasingly prevalent among young adults, dispelling myths and taking proactive steps becomes paramount.

Life After Congestive Heart Failure

No condition can steal your joy unless you let it. Even with a congestive heart failure diagnosis, you can continue to live a fulfilling and meaningful life with the right care, support, and a positive outlook.

The Best Exercises for Heart Health

Unlock the power of an active lifestyle for heart health. With every step you take or weight you lift, you’re not only building strength and endurance, but also nurturing the very core of your vitality — your heart.

Surprising Blood Pressure Facts Most People Don't Know About

The complexity of blood pressure involves more than the numbers revealed at your doctor’s appointment, and the signs of hypertension can masquerade as mundane symptoms. Take charge of your heart health today by learning more about blood pressure.

The Link Between Fiber and a Healthy Heart

Heart disease isn’t an inevitable part of getting older. You do have control over some of the many factors that affect heart health, and diet is one of them. Eating more fiber is a small step that can have a big impact.

Help for Varicose Veins

Beyond aesthetic benefits, varicose vein treatment helps alleviate discomfort, swelling, and other symptoms associated with these unsightly veins while also reducing the risk of more serious vascular health issues down the road.