Thursday, July 05, 2012

Chest pain

Chest pain is discomfort or pain that you feel anywhere along the front of your body between your neck and upper abdomen which may radiate to your left arm, jaw or even in your left shoulder blade.

Many people with chest pain fear a heart attack. However, there are many possible causes of chest pain. Some causes are not dangerous to your health, while other causes are serious and even life-threatening.

Any organ or tissue in your chest can be the source of pain, including your heart, lungs, esophagus, muscles, ribs, tendons, or nerves. Pain may also spread to the chest from the neck, abdomen, and back.


Heart problems that can cause chest pain:-

1. Angina or a heart attack is pain that occurs because your heart is not getting enough blood and oxygen. The most common symptom is chest pain that may feel like tightness, heavy pressure, squeezing, or crushing pain.

The pain may spread to the arm, shoulder, jaw, or back.

2. Aortic Dissection:

A tear in the wall of the aorta, the large blood vessel that takes blood from the heart to the rest of the body (aortic dissection) causes sudden, severe pain in the chest and upper back.

3. Pericarditis

Swelling (inflammation) in the sac that surrounds the heart (pericarditis) causes pain in the center part of the chest.

Lung problems that can cause chest pain:-

1. Pulmonary Embolism:

A blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism)

2. Pneumothorax:

Collapse of athe lung (pneumothorax)

3. Pleurisy:

Inflammation of the lining around the lung (pleurisy) can cause chest pain that usually feels sharp, and often gets worse when you take a deep breath or cough.

4. Pneumonia:

Pneumonia causes a sharp chest pain that often gets worse when you take a deep breath or cough.

Other causes of chest pain:

*Stomach ulcer or gastritis (burning pain occurs if your stomach is empty and feels better when you eat food)

*Gallstones cause pain that gets worse after a meal (most often a fatty meal)

*Heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux (GORD)

*Spasms or narrowing of the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach)

*Inflammation where the ribs join the breast bone or sternum (costochondritis)

*Shingles, which causes sharp, tingling pain on one side that stretches from the chest to the back, and may cause a rash

In children, most chest pain is not caused by the heart.

When to Contact a Doctor:

Call for Ambulance if,

You have sudden crushing, squeezing, tightening, or pressure in your chest.

Pain spreads (radiates) to your jaw, left arm, or between your shoulder blades.

You have nausea, dizziness, sweating, a racing heart, or shortness of breath.

You know you have angina and your chest discomfort is suddenly more intense, brought on by lighter activity, or lasts longer than usual.

Your angina symptoms occur while you are at rest.

You have sudden, sharp chest pain with shortness of breath, especially after a long trip, a stretch of bedrest (for example, following an operation), or other lack of movement, especially if one leg is swollen or more swollen than the other (this could be a blood clot).

Your risk of having a heart attack is greater if you have any of these Risk Factors:

You have a family history of heart disease
You smoke, use cocaine, or are overweight
You have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes

If you have any of these Risk Factors, with a back ground history of Angina, Ischemic Heart disease than take 300 mg of soluble Asprin while waiting for Ambulance (If you live more than 2 hours away from any medical facility) and you don't have any stomach ulcer or history of Aortic Aneurysm.

In order to rule out ischemic heart disease (blockage in your heart arteries) you will need an Angiogram to delineate the exact anatomy of your heart vessels/arteries

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