Across the globe, 20 to 40 percent of adults experience some degree of chest pain every year. In the United States, eight million people visit hospital emergency rooms annually due to chest pain. What causes this troubling symptom, and what are its risk factors?
Read on to find out what chest pain causes, as well as the importance of prompt medical attention.
Causes of Cardiac Chest Pain
Chest pain related to the heart often is a vice-like squeezing sensation or pressure on the breast bone. It may radiate or spread down one or both arms, as well as the back, jaw, and neck. This frightening pain may be accompanied by shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and intense sweating. Mental confusion and low oxygen perfusion, as evidenced by bluish nail beds and lips, can accompany chest pain.
The causes of chest pain related to the heart are:
- Angina is caused by the narrowing of the arteries that feed the heart muscle
- Heart attack, or myocardial infarction, in which parts of the heart muscle are damaged by lack of blood perfusion
- Pericarditis is an acute infection of the thin sac surrounding the heart
- Aortic aneurysm or dissection, a bulging or rupture of the main artery of the cardiovascular system
Causes of Non-Cardiac Chest Pain
Non-cardiac chest pain can be every bit as intense as discomfort related to the heart. This chest pain is related to traumatic injury, gastroesophageal reflux, or other GI problems and can come and go as you change position. Also, it may be accompanied by a bitter or sour taste in the mouth or difficulty swallowing.
Risk Factors For Developing Chest Pain
Just as chest pain can have its genesis in many health conditions, so too can its risk factors. Some common risk factors are poor lifestyle habits, stress, extremely cold weather, and injuries, such as rib fractures or muscular strain.
Some risk factors for chest pain are related to the choices people make in their daily lives. These include:
- A high-fat diet (which impacts both cardiovascular and digestive health)
- Excessive alcohol intake
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Obesity, often coexisting with conditions such as coronary artery disease and GERD
- Use of illicit drugs
- Age (being over 50)
- Poorly managed diabetes, high cholesterol, or hypertension
Why Seek Prompt Medical Attention?
When a lot of people experience chest pain, they don’t often think it’s a cardiac problem, and in a lot of cases, it isn’t a heart-related problem, which is great. However, while non-cardiac chest pain may not be a medical emergency, you cannot know the underlying cause without a thorough medical assessment. Chest pain can have a lot of causes, some of which are life-threatening, and without a doctor’s evaluation, you put yourself at risk. This is why it’s important to seek immediate medical attention whenever you experience pain in the chest.
Prompt Chest Pain Treatment in Sarasota and Bradenton, FL
Chest pain that persists for longer than 10 minutes requires prompt medical attention at the nearest hospital emergency room. If, however, you are experiencing mild and intermittent chest discomfort, call Intercoastal Medical Group for an accurate evaluation with one of our physicians.
We have board-certified cardiologists and gastroenterologists on staff to evaluate your risk factors, give you the right physical assessments onsite, and treat your chest pain promptly and correctly.
Call our Beneva, Cattleridge Medical Building II, or Lakewood Ranch II office for an appointment with one of our board-certified cardiologists. For gastroenterology issues, contact Cattleridge II or Lakewood Ranch II. To check in with your primary care physician, contact the location you usually visit or arrange your appointment online. We are here to help you get the best primary and specialty care in Florida.