How to Tell if Your Chest Pain Might Be Serious

May 03, 2023
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How to Tell if Your Chest Pain Might Be Serious

Chest pain can happen for a number of reasons, from heartburn to panic attacks to pneumonia. However, chest pain is also associated with a lot of different heart conditions, including heart attacks. So, it can be scary when you start to feel tightness or even mild pain in your chest.

At Heart Care, expert cardiologist Shahnaz Begum, MD, FACC, and the rest of our team understand that having chest pain can be worrisome. But we want you to know that chest pain isn’t always serious and could have a myriad of underlying causes. 

In this blog, we explain some possible chest pain culprits and what symptoms to be on the lookout for to tell if it’s something more serious.

Common causes of chest pain

Chest pain, in general, is common. In fact, it accounts for 8 million emergency room visits in the United States each year. So, it comes as no surprise that there are so many things that could be at the root of chest pain. 

The most common cause of chest pain is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), but there are some others that are also often at the root of chest pain complaints:

  • Panic attack
  • Indigestion
  • Pneumonia
  • Muscle strains 
  • Rib injuries
  • Pulmonary embolism, or a lung blood clot

However, it’s always a possibility that your chest pain is caused by a heart issue like coronary artery disease and can lead to angina, where your heart doesn’t get enough oxygen. Chest pain shouldn’t be taken lightly, and it’s always best to have it checked out, since early intervention is key to successful treatment.

Signs of serious chest pain

Heart attacks are extremely common — with one happening every 40 seconds in the United States. So how do you know if that’s what’s causing your chest pain? Here are a few symptoms to be on the lookout for:

  • Pain anywhere in your chest that’s the size of a fist
  • Referred pain in your neck, shoulder, back, jaw, or arms
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat

You may also feel like a balloon is expanding in your chest and there’s an intense pressure that won’t go away with rest or medications.

The bottom line

While your chest pain could be caused by any number of things, it’s important not to take it lightly. If you’re experiencing chest pain, our team at Heart Care can evaluate you through a physical exam and other testing to determine the root of your pain.

If you need care for your chest pain, don’t wait to contact your nearest Heart Care office. We have locations in Frisco, Allen, Plano, and McKinney, Texas, for your convenience. To schedule an appointment, simply give us a call or use our online booking tool today.