What can make it worse: swallowing, coughing, deep breathing,movement, cold weather, sexual intercourse, anxiety, eating.
What can make it better: food, antacids, nitroglycerin, rest, mas-sage of the painful area.
Your Doctor Visit
What your doctor will ask you about: heart palpitations, anxiety,depression, light-headedness, numbness or tingling in your hands oraround your mouth, fever, chills, sweating, coughing, coughing upblood or mucus, feeling short of breath, tenderness, trouble swallow-ing, nausea, vomiting, swelling or pain in the legs, changes in weight,pregnancy, smoking.
Your doctor will also want to know if you’veever had a stress test (usually an electrocardiogram [EKG] whileexercising on a treadmill), or have been treated for heart trouble withmedications or heart surgery.
Your doctor will want to know if you or anyone in your familyhas had any of these conditions: lung disease, asthma, chest surgery or injury, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes,elevated levels of cholesterol or fat in the blood, angina, phlebitis,emotional problems, obesity, congestive heart failure, heart attack,smoking.
Your doctor will want to know if you began feeling chest painafter chest injury or another specific event, or if the pain is fre-quently associated with eating, particular stressful events, orheavy exertion.
Your doctor will want to know if you’re taking any of these med-ications: oral contraceptives, diuretics (“water pills”), digitalis, bron-chodilators, nitroglycerin, tranquilizers, sedatives, antacids, or bloodpressure medications such as beta-blockers, calcium channel agents,and antiarrhythmics.
Your doctor will do a physical examination including the fol-lowing: temperature, weight, blood pressure, pulse, listening toyour chest with a stethoscope, listening to your heart with a stetho-scope, examining your legs for tenderness, warmth, or swelling,electrocardiogram.
Your doctor may do the following blood tests: blood count, test-ing for heart enzymes.
Cause: Chest wall ache
What is it: Pain in the chest wall
Typcal Symptoms: Tenderness in the chest wall, often worsening withmovement or deep breathing, and possibly resultingfrom injury or a bout ofviolent coughing
Cause: Rib fracture
What is it: A crack in one of the ribs
Typcal Symptoms: Tenderness over the fracture, often accompaniedby the sound or sensationof grating and crackling
Cause: Neck pain
What is it: Pain in the neck that radiates to the chest
Typcal Symptoms: Chest or arm pain that worsens when moving orputting pressure on theneck
What is it: Also known as GERD (GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease), the movement of stomach acid up into and through the esophagus, which connects the throat to the stomach; can lead to ulcer (see below)
Typcal Symptoms: Burning upper abdominal pain, worse when lying flat or bending over, particularly soon after meals, relieved by antacids or sitting upright
What is it: Severe irritation of the stomach or intestinal lining
Typcal Symptoms: Burning upper abdominal pain that is worse when lying down, sometimesrelieved by antacids andmade worse by aspirin ordrugs such as ibuprofen
What is it: Gallstones
Typcal Symptoms: Fever, right upper abdominal pain, sometimes painin right shoulder, nausea,vomiting, chills, sometimesjaundice (skin taking on ayellowish appearance),dark urine
What is it: Inflammation in or around the joints
Typcal Symptoms: Tenderness in the shoulder, ribs, or muscles, often inthe lower chest, may resultafter prolonged coughing
Cause: Angina pectoris
What is it: Sudden spasms of chest pain caused by lack of oxygen to the heart muscles
Typcal Symptoms: Chest pain behind the breastbone, aggravated by exertion and relieved by rest; pain may radiate tothe left arm
Cause: Heart attack
What is it: Blockage in one of the arteries feeding the heart, leading to death of part of the heart muscle
Typcal Symptoms: Severe, often crushing pain behind the breastbone, sometimes with sweating, nausea, or vomiting
Cause: Crescendo angina (preinfarction angina)
What is it: A more severe form of angina pectoris (see above)
Typcal Symptoms: Attacks of angina (see above) that occur more frequently, or become moresevere over time
What is it: An infection of the lungs
Typcal Symptoms: Fever, chills, shaking,coughing up blood ormucus, sharp chest pain
What is it: “Collapsed lung”: an accumulation of air between the lungs and chest wall
Typcal Symptoms: Sudden onset of breathing difficulties, sharp chest pain
Cause: Pulmonary embolus
What is it: A blood clot blocking the flow of blood to the lungs
Typcal Symptoms: Sudden onset of breathing difficulties, dull chest pain, sweating, light-headedness,apprehension, cough,coughing up blood,swelling or tenderness inthe calves
What is it: Inflammation of the outer layer of the lungs
Typcal Symptoms: Sharp pain anywhere in the chest, often aggravatedby deep breathing, coughing, or movement
What is it: Inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart
Typcal Symptoms: Pain over the heart or behind the breastbone,often aggravated by deepbreathing, coughing, ormovement
Cause: Dissecting thoracic aortic aneurysm
What is it: A tear of the aorta, the largest blood vessel in the body, which comes directly out of the heart
Typcal Symptoms: Searing chest pain that can start between the shoulder blades, abdominal pain
Cause: Lung tumor
What is it: Cancer of the lungs
Typcal Symptoms: Changes in coughing pat-terns, coughing up blood,chest ache, more commonin smokers
Cause: Esophageal spasm
What is it: A contraction of the muscles in the esophagus
Typcal Symptoms: Severe pain behind the breastbone that is oftenrelieved by eating, difficulty swallowing
Cause: Esophageal tear
What is it: A tearing of the muscles in the esophagus
Typcal Symptoms: Sudden and severe pain behind the lower breastbone, vomiting, sweating,often a result of a neckwound
Cause: Esophageal stricture
What is it: A constriction of the esophagus, which connects the throat to the stomach, that doesn’t let food pass
Typcal Symptoms: Chronic pain behind the breastbone, food regurgitation, heartburn (see above)
Cause: Esophageal cancer
What is it: Abnormal cell growth in the esophagus
Typcal Symptoms: Feeling like food “sticks” in the throat or causes pain,weight loss, malnutrition
- chest pain
- heart pain
- chest pain when breathing
- right chest pain
- what can cause chest pain