As a symptom, chest pain can originate from a variety of sources, from muscle pain to a heart attack. Whilst most chest pains aren't life threatening, some can be a warning sign for a more serious problem and so should never be ignored.
Chest pains can cause different sensations, depending on what's triggering the symptom. Often, the cause of the pain has nothing to do with your heart, but there's no easy way to tell without seeing a doctor to diagnose the cause of the pain.
Heart-related chest pain
Chest pain is frequently associated with heart disease, however, many people with heart disease say they experience more of a discomfort rather than severe pain. Generally, chest pain related to a heart attack or another heart problem can be described by or associated with one or more of the below:
- Pressure, fullness, burning or tightness within the chest
- Crushing or a searing pain that radiates to the back, neck, jaw, shoulders and arms
- Pain lasting more than a few minutes, that gets worse with activity, and varies in intensity
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweats
- Dizziness or weakness
Examples of heart-related causes of chest pain include:
Heart attack. This is the result of a blood clot blocking a coronary artery, restricting blood flow and permanently damaging your heart.
Angina. This is the term for chest pain which is caused by poor blood flow to the heart. Angina is caused by the buildup of thick plaques on the inner walls of the arteries carrying blood to the heart. The plaque causes the arteries to narrow and restricts the heart's blood supply, particularly during exercise.
Aortic dissection. This life-threatening condition involves the main artery leading from your heart, the aorta. If the inner layers of this blood vessel separate, blood is forced between the layers and can cause the aorta to rupture. This can cause severe tearing pain.
Pericarditis. This is when the sac surrounding the heart becomes inflamed. It usually causes sharp pain that can worsen depending on posture.
Heart check-ups are imperative to protecting your health by catching any developing heart problems early on before symptoms develop, and most importantly, whilst changes to a person's lifestyle can still make a significant impact.
They can also identify any pre-existing heart disease that may already be present.
Here at Manchester Cardiology Services, we can help identify any potential predispositions you may have to developing heart problems, and give you peace of mind when it comes to your health.