Tips on Handling Chest Pain

Chest pain is one of the life-threatening symptoms people usually report, since it may indicate problem in the heart. It should never be ignored, as it might be a symptom of an impending heart attack.


Chest pain has five potential causes. According to Web MD, these include cardiovascular problems like coronary artery disease, myocarditis, and myocardial infarction; lung problems like pleuritis, pneumonia, and pulmonary embolism; gastrointestinal problems, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, esophageal contraction disorders, and peptic ulcers; musculoskeletal problems like muscle strain; and nervous problems, such as anxiety and panic attacks.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, chest and abdominal pain stand as the top reasons that people aged 15 years and above visit the emergency department. As per the publication, the number of non-injury emergency visits due to chest pain was five million in 1999 to 2000 and 5.5 million in 2007 to 2008. The figures reflect an increase but it is not statistically significant, as per the publication.

Associated Symptoms

Chest pain also presents accompanying symptoms. According to Mayo Clinic, these include shortness of breath, cold sweats, dizziness or fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. As per the publication, chest pain is characterized as tightness or fullness in the chest, with crushing or searing pain that may radiate to the jaw, neck, shoulders, arms, and back, as well as pain that lasts over a few minutes and gets worse with activity.


According to Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Curtis Rimmerman, as cited by the clinic’s website, heart attack discomfort was unrelenting and typically lasting for five minutes or more. By then, it is vital to contact 911 to obtain emergency treatment.

A person should call 999 for emergency help if he develops sudden severe chest pain, as per NHS UK. The contact should be made if the person’s pain feels tight, heavy, or pressing; lasts more than 15 minutes; radiates or spreads to other body parts as mentioned above; is accompanied by other symptoms like nausea, sweating, coughing up blood, and breathlessness; and if the person is at risk of having coronary artery disease. As per the publication, the person should see his doctor, contact NHS 111, or attend a local walk-in center if the discomfort has resolved.

According to Mayo Clinic, cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR may begin if the person is suspected of having a heart attack. A person who is untrained in doing CPR may do mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing and chest compressions of about 100 times per minute.

Chest pain is a symptom that may indicate a cardiorespiratory, digestive, or neuromuscular problem. However, it may lead to a life-threatening situation that it is best to know what to do when it happens.

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