6 causes of chest pain besides a heart attack

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6 causes of chest pain besides a heart attack

Rule number one: Never dismiss chest pain as “being nothing to be concerned about.”  Anyone experiencing chest pain needs to pay attention and seek medical help to diagnosis what it is.  Many of us may automatically believe that any pains in the chest must surely mean a heart attack.  Pressure or squeezing in the chest, lightheadedness, and pain in the shoulder, arm, neck, jaw, or back, are all classic symptoms of a heart attack.  Even though the pain could be indicating such an event, there are also several others indicators of what it could be. 

Other cause of chest pain besides heart attack

Chest pain may stem from a number of conditions other than always meaning a heart attack.  Having chest pain is common and most of the time it is not a heart attack.  But, it is important to take note of chest pain and if it is sudden and severe, call 911. It’s better to be safe than sorry so don’t hesitate to make the call or go to the emergency room.  In the meantime, here are some conditions that may feel like a heart attack but are not:

1. Heartburn

It is not unusual for anyone having heartburn to mistake it for a heart attack.  Usually occurring after eating and often at night, heartburn is noted for its burning sensation in the chest just behind your breastbone, along with a fiery, tingly, tight, or stabbing pain in the chest.  The pain of heartburn also tends to get worse when lying down or bending over.  Other symptoms might include a sour taste in your mouth, nausea, a sore throat and coughing. 

2.  Pulmonary embolism

Pulmonary embolism is a blockage in one of the pulmonary arteries in your lungs.  In most cases, they are caused by blood clots that travel to the lungs from the legs or sometimes, other parts of the body. It can be deadly.  Symptoms include chest pain or discomfort that worsens on taking in a deep breath, difficulty breathing, coughing up blood, a fast heart rate, sudden lightheadedness, or fainting.

3.  Stable angina

Stable angina is chest pain or discomfort that most often occurs with activity or emotional stress.   Angina is due to poor blood flow through the blood vessels in the heart. The pain is similar to a heart attack, but doesn’t cause the death of heart muscle cells.  More common than a heart attack, stable angina can progress with a period of several months and it may signal an impending heart attack.

4.  Pericarditis

Pericarditis is a condition in which the sac-like covering around the heart (pericardium) becomes inflamed.  This condition is often the result of an infection such as viral infections causing a chest cold or pneumonia, infections with bacteria, or some fungal infections. Pain is typically sharp and stabbing, located in the center or left side of your chest. If you lie down or attempt to take a deep breath, the pain will worsen.

5.  Panic attack

A panic attack is the sudden onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and includes symptoms such as palpitations, pounding heart or accelerated heart rate, shortness of breath, trembling or shaking and sharp chest pain. 

6.  Costochondritis

Costochondritis is sometimes known as chest wall pain and is an inflammation of the cartilage that connects a rib to the breastbone or sternum.  The pain caused by this condition might mimic that of a heart attack or other heart condition.  It has no apparent cause and the treatment focuses on easing pain with rest while waiting for the condition to improve on its own, which can take several weeks or longer.