Chest pain causes, symptoms, and treatment 

Chest pain causes, symptoms, and treatment 

Chest pain is typically associated with cardiac problems, most commonly heart attacks. However, there are several reasons for it that may not be related to an underlying ailment.

Chest pain is one of the most prevalent reasons individuals go to the emergency room. It can happen for several reasons, but the most potentially fatal of the causes has to do with the heart or lungs.

Many feelings, like tight, scorching, achy, or acute, are frequently used to describe the pain in the chest. You should see a doctor instantly if you begin experiencing this.

What is chest pain? 

Chest pain is when any part of the chest hurts. The pain may radiate to different body parts, including the neck, pain in the arms, back, and jaws. The intensity of pain varies depending on the person and the source of the pain. It may be a mild ache or an acute one. Additionally, you can have tightness, pain, or burning, and occasionally you might experience a squeezing or crushing feeling in your chest. The type of pain felt is influenced by the intensity, duration, and location.

What causes chest pain?

Most individuals link it with heart problems, such as heart attacks. But occasionally, the cause of the pain is unrelated to the heart. There are numerous reasons for this, and all require medical attention. To determine the reason for the pain, you must visit your doctor. 

Heart-related causes of chest pain 

It can result from a variety of heart conditions. The causes of linked to the heart are as follows; 

1. Heart attack

This occurs when the heart’s blood supply is blocked. Oxygen deprivation causes the heart muscle to die, which may cause a heart attack.

Symptoms of a heart attack include:

• Having chest pain

• respiration difficulty

• Dizziness and weakness

• Arm, shoulder, neck, jaw, or back pain.

• Heartburn

• Nausea

• Tiredness

• Vomiting.

2. Angina

This is chest pain caused by the insufficient blood supply to the heart. Many people who experience angina report it as a pressure or squeezing pain in their chest. It can also have an indigestion-like sensation and is a sign of coronary artery disease.

Symptoms of Angina include:

You can experience pain in your neck, shoulders, back, arms, or jaw.

3. Pericarditis

This is a condition in which the sac surrounding the heart is inflamed. The lining surrounding your heart canbecome inflamed as a result of an infection, and this can cause stabbing chest pain. Pericarditis can be caused by various factors, although viral infections are the most common.

Symptoms of Pericarditis include:

• Pain in the arm and shoulder

• Sharp pain when you are lying down or breathing deeply that is relieved only by sitting up or bending forward. 

It can cause Cardiac Tamponade, a medical emergency resulting from excess fluid buildup in the pericardium (the sac around the heart). 

4. Myocarditis

This is a condition of inflammation of heart muscles. Myocarditis symptoms resemble those of a heart attack. You might feel your heart beating quickly, have trouble breathing, or have chest pain.In most cases, an infection causes this condition.

5. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

This condition affects the lower heart chambers and is characterised by the thickening and stiffening of the muscle walls. When this occurs, blood cannot enter or leave the chambers of your heart.

Symptoms of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy include: 

• Pain in the chest

• Faint spells

• Feet, abdomen, ankles, and legs swelling

• Unsteady heartbeat

• Respiration difficulty

• Dizziness

This illness can cause cardiac failure if you don’t visit a doctor fast.

6. Aortic dissection

When the inner layers of the aorta, the principal artery emerging from the heart, are torn or separated, a life-threatening condition known as aortic dissection results.

Lung-related causes

7. Pneumonia

This is an infection in the lungs. When the lungs are infected, the pain they produce can worsen when you breathe. Sharp or stabbing chest pains have been used to describe the experience, particularly while coughing or inhaling deeply. You may experience pain in any side of your chest. 

Symptoms of pneumonia include:

• Pain in the chest

• breathing difficulty

• Weakness and shallow breathing

• spitting up phlegm that could be bloody

• weak appetite

Stop by your doctor right away if you think you might have pneumonia.

8. Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary embolism is a condition occurs when a blood clot from another body part becomes lodged in a pulmonary artery that provides blood to the lungs. It is accompanied by an intense pain that is said to get worse when you breathe.

9. Pleurisy

This is an inflammation of the lungs’ protective membrane. This issue may cause chest pain that worsens when you inhale or cough.

The symptoms include, among others:

• When you breathe, the pain gets worse.

• Shoulder or chest pain

• Pain when moving the trunk or chest wall, coughing, or sneezing.

It can have problems that are life-threatening if left untreated.

10. Asthma

Inflammation of the airways, a typical asthma feature, can result in chest pain. Additionally, allergens or irritations may cause a temporary narrowing of your airways, which will make breathing difficult. Along with coughing or wheezing, you could experience tightness in your chest.

Additional signs comprise:

• breathing difficulty

• coughing

• wheezing 

• Chest tightness

11. Pneumothorax (collapsed lung)

A collapsed lung happens when air escapes into the area between the ribs, causing all or a portion of the lung to collapse. The chest pain brought on by a collapsed lung frequently starts suddenly, lasts for hours, and is usually accompanied by shortness of breath. Though some people may not have symptoms, but if you do, you might experience some of the following signs:

• You could feel chest pain that travels to your shoulder.

• Breathing may cause some discomfort or agony.

• Quick breathing

• respiration difficulty.

• One side of the chest is swollen.

Digestive issues

12. Pancreatitis

This is an inflammation of the pancreas. You may experience severe upper abdominal pain as a result. You may also feel queasy and vomit as a result of it. Gallstones are typically a side effect of acute pancreatitis. A heavy alcohol intake or genetic predisposition can cause chronic or long-term pancreatitis.

Some symptoms of pancreatitis include:

• Upper abdomen pain.

• Belly that is swollen or sore.

• Fever, vomiting, and sickness

• Back-based pain.

You should visit your doctor if you feel these symptoms. 

13. Heartburn

When acid from the stomach leaks into the tube that connects the throat to the stomach, this causes a sharp, burning pain behind the breastbone.

14. Gastritis 

Gastritis is a stomach lining inflammation that causes achy lower left chest pain. Additionally, you can become nauseated and vomit.

15. Hiatal hernia

When this happens, a portion of the stomach rises into the chest. A portion of your stomach can occasionally pass through a diaphragm muscle opening that is ordinarily reserved only for your oesophagus. Your stomach’s blood flow is reduced as a result. People that have Hiatal hernia frequently struggle to swallow. This kind of hernia is typical and could go unnoticed.

After eating, the top of the stomach may push into the lower area of the chest, which may result in GERD symptoms.

These consist of the following:

• heartburn 

• reflux 

• Chest discomfort

A hiatal hernia may occasionally require surgery.

16. Peptic ulcers 

These are sores in the stomach lining. They rarely result in severe pain, although they might give rise to persistent chest discomfort.

17. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

GERD describes the condition in which the stomach’s contents rise again into the throat.This could lead to chest pain, regurgitation, nausea, and swallowing pain. 

Muscle and bone-related causes

18. Damaged rib

Your chest’s protective ribs can fracture due to accidents. When you breathe deeply, especially, this may cause excruciating chest pain.

19. Chest muscle strain

Muscle tears caused by injuries can be painful, especially when you move. Bruising and swelling are also possible.

20. Sore muscles caused by chronic pain syndrome.

21. Costochondritis

The cartilage connecting your breastbone to most of your ribs might become inflamed. Your chest may feel sharply painful, and the pain may worsen when you cough or take a big breath.

Other causes

22. Shingles

When the chickenpox virus reactivates, shingles can result in pain and a band of blisters that extends from the back to the chest wall.

23. Panic attack 

Chest pain may accompany an unexpected, short-lived feeling of dread and fear. A panic attack may feel like a heart attack and may exhibit additional symptoms that resemble one. When you breathe deeply, these attacks frequently subside. They might only last a few minutes in some circumstances.

Without a doctor’s assistance, it may be challenging to differentiate between a panic attack and a heart attack if the pain persists.

24. Mastitis

Mastitis frequently occurs while nursing. The breast tissue is infected. Pain from mastitis may be very severe. Swelling, chest or breast pain that shoots or is extremely severe, and fever are all possible symptoms.

Even while some people need antibiotics or hospitalisation, the illness may go away on its own in some instances.

Symptoms of chest pain 

The symptoms brought on by chest pain vary depending on the underlying cause. Along with this pain, you might experience other symptoms. Your doctor can make a diagnosis based on the symptoms you may be experiencing. These consist of the following:

Symptoms of heart-related pain

Even though chest pain is frequently associated with heart disease, some patients experience other symptoms that may not come with pain. Some heart disease patients have reported a general discomfort that isn’t often recognised as pain. Principally speaking, one or more of the following may be used to characterise pain caused by a heart attack or another heart condition:

• Tightness, pressure, or crushing sensation in the chest.

• Back, jaw, or arm pain that originates in the chest.

• Experiencing pain that lasts more than a few minutes, worsens with activity, fades and returns, or changes in intensity

• fatigue.

• Lightheadedness.

• Breathing difficulty

• weakness or wooziness

• abdomen ache.

• Nausea.

• Cold sweats

• exertional discomfort

Other symptoms

It might be challenging to discern chest pain from the heart and others causing the pain. Symptoms that may not be heart-related include:

• A bitter or acidic aftertaste.

• Pain after swallowing or eating.

• Swallowing difficulties

• Pain that changes with your body positionand either becomes better or worse.

• Pain that gets worse when you cough or breathe deeply.

• Rash

• Sensitivity to pressure on the chest.

• Fever.

• Aches

• An extended period of pain

• Cough and runny nose

• Emotions of anxiety or panic.

• Hyperventilation.

• A chest ache that originates in your back

Heart or stomach issues can be the source of typical heartburn symptoms, which include a sharp burning pain behind the breastbone.


The reason for the chest pain will determine the appropriate course of treatment. As soon as you call for assistance, you’ll receive emergency care if a heart attack is the root of your pain. This may entail medication, treatment, or surgery to regain blood flow to your heart.

Your healthcare practitioner will discuss treatment choices with you if a problem other than heart disease is the source of pain in your chest. Depending on your condition and how severe it is, they may offer advice like:

• Lifestyle changes.

• Medicines.

• Surgery

How to prevent chest pain

We’ve all had some kind of chest pain at some point in our lives, and they typically go away on its own. That persistent pain may occasionally be brought on by our lifestyle or how we manage stress in our daily activities.A healthy lifestyle can help lower the risk of heart, vascular disease, and other conditions. Here are some tips on how to prevent this pain.

• A balanced diet: You can construct an eating strategy suitable for you with the assistance of your healthcare professional or trained dietitian.

• Not consuming tobacco.

• Regularly going for a workout.

• Taking care of existing medical issues like diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

• Achieving and keeping a healthy weight.

• Limiting your alcohol consumption.


Chest pain can result from a variety of conditions. While most people associate it with a heart condition, other, less serious conditions can also result in this. The causes of pain in the chest vary, so you should see your doctor to find out what is causing it. It can be an indication of a heart attack and an indication that you have some inflammation or an infection. A panic attack or a strained muscle can also occasionally be brought on. A heart attack is a medical emergency; if you think you’re having one, contact an ambulance right away. It needs to be treated as quickly as possible.


How can I tell whether the discomfort in my chest is serious?

If your chest hurts for more than five minutes and doesn’t go away despite resting or taking medication, call an ambulance immediately!Heart attack warning signs include cardiac chest pain, which can be potentially fatal.

What should I do if I have chest pain? 

Never disregard or put off seeking treatment for any chest pain. Call an ambulance or arrange a ride to the nearest emergency room if your chest discomfort is new, appears unexpectedly, or persists for more than five minutes after you’ve rested or taken medicine.

What causes chest pain? 

Acid reflux, panic attacks, and problems related to asthma are a few reasons for chest pain. Chest pain can also signify an illness that poses a severe risk to life. Get emergency medical attention if you believe you have a heart attack or another type of heart disease.

Dr Sanam shakya

Dr. Sanam Shakya is a licensed MBBS doctor working as a medical officer under the emergency department in Karnali Province Hospital, Surkhet, Nepal.Dr. Shakya's interests are intensive trauma care, emergency medicine, and internal fixation surgeries. He spends a considerable amount of time inpatient''s healthcare.

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