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Chest Pain

What is chest pain?

  • Chest pain is discomfort and/or soreness in or around the chest.
  • In general, chest pain can be divided into heart-related chest pain (cardiac chest pain) and chest pain that is not from a heart condition (non-cardiac chest pain).
  • If a person is having chest pain and does not know the cause, they should be immediately evaluated by emergency medical personnel.

What causes chest pain?

Patient Comments

Although there are many causes of chest pain, the two large groups of causes are cardiac-related problems and non-cardiac causes. Cardiac chest pain is caused by an imbalance between the blood supply to the heart and oxygen needs of the heart muscle. Cardiac chest pain is most commonly a result of atherosclerosis (leading to fixed narrowing of coronary arteries), but also can be caused by coronary spasms that narrow the arteries intermittently. Cardiac chest pain is also referred to as angina or angina pectoris.

Non-cardiac chest pain has many causes, ranging from infections and muscle or bone problems to conditions such as lung tumors, lung collapse, chest trauma, upper abdominal pain, and gastric reflux. Although some of the non-cardiac causes of chest pain may require emergency care (for examples, lung collapse and severe chest trauma), most do not.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/29/2016

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Chest Pain:

Chest Pain - Causes

What caused your chest pain?

Chest Pain Symptoms

Chest discomfort or pain may be a key warning symptom of a heart attack. Heart attack symptoms may include chest pain or pressure, or a strange feeling in the chest, sweating, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, or upper belly, or in one or both shoulders or arms, lightheadedness or sudden weakness, a fast or irregular heartbeat.

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