Types of Chest pains

Chest pain is an alarming symptom that causes lot of anxiety and worry in people. From the Doctor’s point of view, chest pain sets of a lot of alarms. Enter into the ER complaining of chest pain and the Doctor will rush you to the bed, strap an oxygen mask on you and order and ECG. While the ECG is being taken, he will draw a blood sample to test for Myocardial infarction.

Though the above illustration may scare you, it’s intention is not to scare but to educate on the seriousness with which chest pain is taken. However, in this article we aim to educate you on chest pain and how you can help when you or someone near you feels pain in the chest.

Chest pain can be defined as pain that occurs anywhere between the neck and the upper abdomen. Chest pain can be of any type or nature based on the cause and what makes it more complex is that 4% of non-cardiac type chest pain has a cardiac cause. For example, if you are getting pain that seems to be due to acidity (burning epigastric pain right at the sternum), you have a 1 in 25 chance of it being a heart related pain. That is why chest pain is never ignored.

Let us explore Chest pain deeper. Here are the 5 possible organ systems chest pain can come from. Later, we will go in detail of each system picking up a few examples:

  • Cardiac
  • Lung- related
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Psychological/Neurological

Cardiac Chest Pain

Though cardiac related chest pain is usually the least likely cause of chest pain, it is also the most dangerous and every Doctor would like to rule it out. A simple ECG will easily rule out the heart and you should always aim to get an ECG done. Here are a few causes of Cardiac Chest Pain:

Heart attack — A heart attack happens when there is sufficient blockage of the blood supply to the heart causing pain in the heart. The reduced blood supply means the heart is not getting enough oxygen and the heart muscle starts to die. The heart will then not be able to pump as effectively and thus not supply blood to the heart causing a vicious cycle. This type of chest pain is mostly on the left side, radiates to the left jaw and left arm and feels like a constricting band around the chest.

You can treat this effectively by taking tablet Aspirin at a dose of 150 mg to counter the effect. Since, the block of the heart vessels is usually due to a clot, the Aspirin will break up the clot and allow some blood flow back to the heart. Aspirin should be given to the person on the way to the hospital and the person should be given a lot of space so his/her breathing is not hampered.

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