What Could Be Causing Your Chest Pain?

Chest Pain

There are a wide variety of causes for chest pain, from acid reflux to heart attack. Any part of the chest can be the source of the pain. If you are experiencing any pain or heaviness in your chest that lasts more than a few seconds or minutes, you could be experiencing a life-threatening event. Consider dialing 911 immediately and visiting your local emergency care center. The potentially life-threatening causes of chest pain include:

  • Angina
    This occurs when a partial blockage of a coronary artery prevents the heart muscle from getting an adequate blood supply. Angina causes intermittent pain, but no permanent damage to the heart.
  • Heart Attack (or Myocardial Infarction)
    A heart attack occurs when the coronary arteries become completely blocked. The heart muscle does not receive any oxygen and the tissue becomes damaged or dies.
  • Pulmonary Embolism
    This condition is not associated with the heart, but with the lungs. When a blood clot causes a blockage in one of the major vessels that supply the lungs with blood, one can experience intense chest pain.
  • Perforated Viscus
    A perforated viscus is a tear or hole in the wall of the gastrointestinal tract that allows air to enter the abdominal cavity, which can cause chest pain.
  • Aortic Dissection
    This is a tear in the inner lining of the aorta, the artery that supplies blood to the vital organs of the body. Pain occurs in the chest and can also radiate to the back and other parts of the body.
  • Spontaneous Pneumothorax
    A spontaneous pneumothorax occurs when air enters the chest cavity and alters the pressure balance of the lung. The lung becomes unable to re-expand, cutting off the oxygen supply to the body.
  • Cocaine
    Cocaine use can induce chest pain by causing the blood vessels of the body to constrict, decreasing blood flow to the heart.

The following conditions may cause chest pain, but are typically not immediately life-threatening:

  • Herpes zoster
  • Acid reflux
  • Esophageal spasm
  • Pneumonia
  • Acute pericarditis
  • Mitral valve prolapse

If you or a loved one is experiencing any kind of chest pain or pressure, seriously consider calling 911 and contacting your cardiac care doctor. Learn more about Good Samaritan Hospital and our services by contacting us at (408) 559-2011.

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