General Practice 2022

Chest pain: 9 main causes and when it could be a heart attack

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Chest pain: 9 main causes and when it could be a heart attack
Chest pain: 9 main causes and when it could be a heart attack
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Chest pain is most often not a symptom of a heart attack, as it is more commonly related to excess gas, breathing problems, anxiety attacks or muscle fatigue.

However, this type of pain can also be an important sign of a heart attack, especially in people with uncontrolled high blood pressure and untreated high cholesterol. It is common that in these cases the pain is a very intense squeezing sensation, which does not improve over time and radiates to the neck and arms. Understand how to differentiate a heart attack from other types of pain.

As there are many possibilities for chest pain, it is important to go to the hospital whenever the pain lasts longer than 20 minutes to subside or when it gets worse over time, especially when other symptoms arise such as dizziness, cold sweating, difficulty breathing, tingling in the arms or severe headache.

What can chest pain be

To find out the possible cause of your chest pain, please answer the following questions:

  • Yes, the pain is getting more intense.
  • No, the pain has remained similar.

If your pain is very intense and has worsened over time, we advise you to go to the hospital or call for medical help, as it could be a sign of a heart attack.

Attention: this tool is not a substitute for consultation with the doctor. Any type of chest pain that is very severe, worsens within minutes, or is accompanied by other symptoms should be evaluated by a physician.

  • Stinging or pricking pain.
  • Burning sensation in the chest.
  • I don't know how to define the pain I'm feeling.
  • Yes.
  • No.
  • Yes, when I move my torso.
  • Yes, when I take a deep breath.
  • Yes, when I squeeze my belly.
  • No, I think the pain is always the same.
  • Yes.
  • No.
  • Yes.
  • No.

If the pain you feel is severe, worsens over time or does not improve after 20 minutes, we recommend that you go to the hospital.

In addition to pain, a heart attack can cause other symptoms such as tingling in the arm, general malaise, dizziness, cold sweats and dry cough.

First aid in suspected heart attack

  • 10 main symptoms of heart attack

  • Infarction or anxiety: main differences and what to do

    Restart

    It is possible that it is just a reaction to stress, caused by anxiety.

    We advise you to try to rest in a quiet place and drink a soothing tea such as lemon balm, chamomile or valerian.

    If the pain has not improved after 20 minutes, or if it worsens during this period, we recommend that you go to the hospital to identify the cause and start the appropriate treatment.

    7 natural tranquilizers for anxiety, insomnia and nervousness

  • Anxiety crisis: what it is, symptoms, causes and what to do

  • Infarction or anxiety: main differences and what to do

    Restart

    Since the discomfort you feel gets worse with the movement of the trunk (as happens when looking back, for example) it is possible that it is some inflammation at the muscular level. However, it can also be a sign of inflammation in the cartilages of the sternum, known as "costochondritis".

    This type of discomfort tends to improve with rest, however, you can also consult a general practitioner to confirm the diagnosis and start treatment with medication.

    9 home treatments to relieve muscle pain

  • Costochondritis (sternal pain): symptoms, causes and treatment

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    In these cases, other symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing or tiredness are common.

    It is best to make an appointment with a general practitioner or pulmonologist to identify the cause and initiate appropriate treatment.

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  • Respiratory system diseases: what they are, symptoms and what to do

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    The accumulation of gas in the intestine can cause a stabbing pain in the region of the heart. This pain usually doesn't get worse over time, but it can be very uncomfortable and come on several times throughout the day.

    Although it can happen to anyone, this type of pain is more common in those who suffer from constipation or have an intestinal condition, such as irritable bowel.

    Giving a belly massage and drinking mint or fennel tea are great ways to relieve discomfort and release gas.

    7 best home remedies for excess gas

  • 5 ways to eliminate intestinal gas quickly

    Restart

    Pain in the mid-chest area that gets worse after eating is usually a symptom of a gallbladder problem. This is because the fat in the food stimulates the gallbladder to contract, causing pain.

    In these cases, other symptoms such as retching, swollen belly, whitish stools, diarrhea and loss of appetite are also common.

    It is recommended to consult a gastroenterologist to confirm the diagnosis and initiate appropriate treatment.

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  • 6 main symptoms of gallstones (and what to do)

  • Diet in gallbladder crisis: what to eat and what to avoid

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    Stomach problems, such as gastric ulcers or gastritis, usually cause pain in the mid-chest area, which tends to get worse if you haven't eaten for a long time. This discomfort is usually relieved after eating.

    Along with the pain, other symptoms may arise, such as a swollen belly, decreased appetite, belching and retching.

    The ideal is to consult a gastroenterologist, to identify if there is really any change in the stomach and start the appropriate treatment.

    4 home remedies for stomach pain

  • 7 main symptoms of gastritis

  • Diet for gastritis and ulcer

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    Reflux is a condition that causes gastric contents to rise up into the esophagus, resulting in pain, usually in the middle of the chest, which can be accompanied by other symptoms such as frequent burping, poor digestion and a feeling of a bloated stomach.

    The pain also tends to get worse when you haven't eaten for a long time or when you bend your torso to pick something up off the floor, for example.

    To confirm the diagnosis of reflux, the ideal thing is to make an appointment with a gastroenterologist, as there are medicines and some care that help relieve symptoms.

    Gastroesophageal reflux: what it is, symptoms, causes and treatment

  • 5 home remedies to treat reflux

  • Diet for reflux: what to eat and what to avoid

    Restart

    Although gastritis most often causes a stabbing pain in the middle of the chest, it can also cause a burning sensation, especially if you haven't eaten for a long time.

    In these cases, other symptoms such as a swollen belly, decreased appetite, belching and retching may also appear.

    The ideal is to consult a gastroenterologist, to identify if there is really any change in the stomach and start the appropriate treatment.

    7 main symptoms of gastritis

  • 7 home remedies for gastritis

  • Diet for gastritis and ulcer

    Restart

    Unfortunately we don't have enough data to help identify the possible cause for the pain you are experiencing.

    We advise you to consult a general practitioner or go to the hospital for a more detailed assessment.

    Chest pain: 9 main causes and when it could be a heart attack

  • Pain in the middle of the chest: what it can be and what to do

  • Pain in the right side of the chest: 7 common causes (and what to do)

  • Chest pain on the left side: 6 possible causes and what to do

    Restart

    • Yes, it gets worse after eating.
    • Yes, it gets worse when I don't eat for a long time.
    • No, I don't think it's related.

    The following are the most common causes of chest pain and what to do in each situation:

    1. Excessive gases

    Excessive gas is possibly the most common cause of chest pain and is not related to heart problems, often appearing in people who suffer from constipation. The buildup of gas in the intestines can push against some abdominal organs, eventually creating pain that radiates to the chest.

    How to identify: is usually a sharp stabbing pain that goes away, but comes back repeatedly, especially when bending over on your belly to pick up something from the floor, for example.

    What to do: A good strategy is to massage the intestines to help push out the gas, but you can also adopt a position that facilitates the elimination of gas. Also, walking for a few minutes can also help. In more complicated cases, the doctor may advise the use of drugs such as simethicone, for example.

    See how to do the abdominal massage for gas:

    2. Anxiety and Stress

    Anxiety, as well as excess stress causes an increase in muscle tension in the ribs, in addition to increasing the heart rate. This combination causes a feeling of pain in the chest, which can arise even when the person does not feel stressed, but has had an argument moments before, for example.This happens most commonly in those who are frequently stressed or suffer from panic and anxiety syndrome.

    How to identify: is usually accompanied by other symptoms such as rapid breathing, excessive sweating, rapid heartbeat, nausea and even changes in bowel function. Check out how to differentiate anxiety from heart attack.

    What to do: Try to rest in a quiet place, have a calming tea such as valerian, or do some leisure activity such as watching a movie, playing games, going to the gym or gardening. See some more tips to end anxiety and stress.

    3. Infarction

    Infarction, although it is the first concern of those who suffer from chest pain, is usually a rare cause, being more common in people with uncontrolled high blood pressure, very high cholesterol, diabetes, age over 45 years or smokers.

    How to identify: it is a pain more localized on the left side of the chest, in the form of tightness, which does not improve after 20 minutes, and may radiate to one of the arms, or jaw, causing a tingling sensation.

    What to do: it is recommended to go to the emergency room to do heart tests, such as electrocardiogram, cardiac enzymes and chest X-ray, to identify if there is a heart attack and start treatment as soon as possible. Learn about the treatment options your doctor can choose during a heart attack.

    4. Muscle pain

    Muscle injuries are very common in everyday life, especially in those who go to the gym or do some kind of sport. However, they can also happen after simple activities like coughing a lot or picking up heavy objects. In addition, during stressful or fearful situations, the muscles can also become very contracted, resulting in inflammation and pain.

    How to identify: it is a pain that can get worse when breathing, but it is also worse when turning the trunk, to look back, for example. In addition to appearing after situations such as those indicated above.

    What to do: A good way to relieve muscle pain is to rest and apply warm compresses to the painful area.It can also help to stretch your chest muscles by placing both arms straight behind you and grasping your hands. Understand how a muscle strain happens and what to do to avoid it.

    5. Gastroesophageal reflux

    People who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux and do not eat a proper diet are more likely to experience frequent chest pain, as it is related to the inflammation of the esophagus that occurs when stomach acid reaches the walls of the organ. When this happens, in addition to intense burning, it is also possible to feel pain in the chest.

    How to identify: in most cases it is a pain in the middle of the chest (sternum) that appears accompanied by burning and stomach pain, however, it can also arise with a slight feeling of tightness in the throat, which occurs due to spasms of the esophagus, so the person may experience chest pain when swallowing.

    What to do: Drink chamomile or ginger tea, as they improve digestion and decrease stomach acidity, reducing inflammation of the esophagus.Also, you can take an antacid or fruit s alt. Outside the crisis, you should maintain a light diet, without fatty or spicy foods, for example. See what the diet should be like for those who suffer from reflux.

    6. Stomach ulcer

    The pain caused by the presence of an ulcer in the stomach is due to inflammation of the walls of the organ and can be easily confused with a pain in the heart, due to the proximity of the two organs.

    How to identify: is a pain located in the middle of the chest, but it can also radiate to the right side, depending on the location of the ulcer. In addition, it is more common after meals and can be accompanied by a feeling of full stomach, nausea and vomiting.

    What to do: a gastroenterologist should be consulted when a stomach ulcer is suspected to initiate appropriate treatment with gastric protectors, such as Omeprazole, and avoid complications such as perforation.However, while waiting for the appointment, symptoms can be relieved with potato juice. Check out some home remedy options for stomach ulcers.

    7. Gallbladder problems

    The gallbladder is a small organ that is on the right side of the stomach and that can become inflamed due to the presence of stones or excessive consumption of fat, for example. When this happens, pain appears on the right side of the chest that can radiate to the heart, resembling a heart attack.

    How to identify: mainly affects the right side of the chest and gets worse after eating, especially after eating more fatty foods such as fried foods or sausages. In addition, it can also appear with nausea and a feeling of full stomach.

    What to do: avoid eating fatty foods and drink plenty of water. Check out, in the following video, some more feeding tips to end the pain caused by the gallbladder:

    8. Lung problems

    Before being a symptom of heart problems, chest pain is more common in disorders that happen in the lungs, such as bronchitis, asthma or infection, for example. As a part of the lung is located in the chest and behind the heart, this pain may feel like cardiac pain, although it is not.

    How to identify: the person may have chest pain when coughing or worse when breathing, especially when taking a deep breath. There may also be a feeling of shortness of breath, wheezing or frequent coughing.

    What to do: consult a pulmonologist to identify the specific cause of pain and initiate appropriate treatment.

    9. Heart diseases

    Various heart diseases can cause chest pain, especially angina, arrhythmia or heart attack, for example. However, it is also common for this symptom to be accompanied by others that lead the doctor to suspect a heart disease, such as excessive tiredness, difficulty breathing or palpitations, for example.See possible causes of heart pain.

    How to identify: is pain that does not seem to be caused by any of the reasons mentioned above and that is accompanied by other symptoms such as changes in heart rate, palpitations, general swelling, excessive tiredness and rapid breathing, for example. Understand better about the symptoms of heart disease.

    What to do: you should consult a cardiologist to do heart exams and identify if there is any change that may be causing the pain, starting the appropriate treatment.

    When to go to the doctor

    It is important to seek medical help when the chest pain takes longer than 20 minutes to relieve and whenever the pain causes concern to the person. In addition, other symptoms that may indicate that it is important to see a doctor include:

    • Dizziness;
    • Cold sweating;
    • Vomiting and nausea;
    • Difficulty breathing;
    • Intense headache.

    It is important to seek medical help whenever chest pain causes concern, thus avoiding more serious problems.

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