Chest pain is one of the most common reasons for emergency room visits. Experiencing chest discomfort can be scary, and many people assume it means they’re having a heart attack. Angina is the kind of chest pain that accompanies a heart attack, and it’s caused by decreased blood flow to the heart.
While it’s true that chest pain is a symptom of serious heart problems like a heart attack, it’s also a symptom of other, less serious conditions. Your heart can cause chest pain, but so can your lungs, digestive system, and nearby muscles.
At NJ Cardiovascular Institute, we specialize in diagnosing and treating chest pain. Dr. Kunal Patel and our team offer comprehensive heart care, and we’re here to help you find the treatment that works.
If you experience crushing or squeezing chest pain that lasts for several minutes, with or without other symptoms like shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, or radiating pain, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
If your symptoms are different, it’s time to learn more about a few lesser-known causes of chest pain.
Pneumonia or bronchitis
Your lungs can cause chest pain, especially if you have a condition like pneumonia or bronchitis. Both pneumonia and bronchitis can make breathing difficult or painful, and you feel the pain inside your chest.
Bronchospasm is a sudden narrowing of the airways, which can result in chest pain. Bronchospasm can develop along with pneumonia or bronchitis, but it can also occur with chronic conditions. People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma may be more likely to experience bronchospasm.
Acid reflux, also called heartburn, can make your chest hurt. Acid reflux develops when the contents of your stomach travel backward into your esophagus, causing an unpleasant burning sensation.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic form of acid reflux, which means you suffer from heartburn regularly. If you have chest pain with GERD, you might notice pain gets worse when you cough or take a deep breath.
Shingles is a type of viral infection that typically causes a painful rash, but it can also cause chest pain. In fact, chest pain may develop before a rash appears. Chest pain associated with shingles often feels like a band of sharp pain. The rash may appear a few days after you notice chest pain.
Fractures or muscle strains
Musculoskeletal injury can cause chest pain. Bruised or broken ribs, along with compression fractures, can trigger pain within your chest. People with damaged bones generally experience intense pain at the time of injury.
Strenuous physical activity can strain the muscles and tendons around your ribs and chest. This strain may cause inflammation and lead to chest pain. If your pain gets worse with activity, it may be due to sore muscles.
When chest pain necessitates immediate medical care
If you suspect a heart attack, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
Symptoms of a heart attack include the sudden onset of symptoms such as:
- Chest pain (angina)
- Pain that spreads to the shoulders and arms
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Cold sweat
On the other hand, there are many conditions that affect heart health and don’t show obvious signs or symptoms. A few of these are high blood pressure and high cholesterol, both of which can lead to heart disease and other heart issues.
The only way to ensure you’re enjoying your best health is to keep up with your regular doctor’s appointments. Learn more about what our team at NJ Cardiovascular Institute can offer you with a consultation.
We have offices to serve you in Newark and Secaucus, New Jersey. Call the office nearest you to schedule an appointment today.