Chest pain disease reference guide – drugs.com home remedies for chest pain

Chest pain appears in many forms, ranging from a sharp stab to a dull ache. Sometimes chest pain feels crushing or burning. In certain cases, the pain travels up the neck, into the jaw, and then radiates to the back or down one or both arms.

Although chest pain is often associated with heart disease, many people with heart disease say they experience a vague discomfort that isn’t necessarily identified as pain. In general, chest discomfort related to a heart attack or another heart problem may be described by or associated with one or more of the following:

• Angina. Angina is the term for chest pain caused by poor blood flow to the heart. This is often caused by the buildup of thick plaques on the inner walls of the arteries that carry blood to your heart. These plaques narrow the arteries and restrict the heart’s blood supply, particularly during exertion.


• Collapsed lung. The chest pain associated with a collapsed lung typically begins suddenly and can last for hours, and is generally associated with shortness of breath. A collapsed lung occurs when air leaks into the space between the lung and the ribs.

Chest pain doesn’t always signal a heart attack. But that’s what emergency room doctors will test for first because it’s potentially the most immediate threat to your life. They may also check for life-threatening lung conditions — such as a collapsed lung or a clot in your lung. Immediate tests

• Electrocardiogram (ECG). This test records the electrical activity of your heart through electrodes attached to your skin. Because injured heart muscle doesn’t conduct electrical impulses normally, the ECG may show that you have had or are having a heart attack.

• Blood tests. Your doctor may order blood tests to check for increased levels of certain proteins or enzymes normally found in heart muscle. Damage to heart cells from a heart attack may allow these proteins or enzymes to leak, over a period of hours, into your blood.

• Computerized tomography (CT scan). Different types of CT scans can be used to check your heart arteries for blockages. A CT coronary angiogram can also be done with dye to check your heart and lung arteries for blockages and other problems.

• Stress tests. These measure how your heart and blood vessels respond to exertion, which may indicate if your chest pain is heart-related. There are many kinds of stress tests. You may be asked to walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike while hooked up to an ECG. Or you may be given a drug intravenously to stimulate your heart in a way similar to exercise.

• Coronary catheterization (angiogram). This test helps doctors identify individual arteries to your heart that may be narrowed or blocked. A liquid dye is injected into the arteries of your heart through a long, thin tube (catheter) that’s fed through an artery, either through your wrist or your groin, to arteries in your heart. As the dye fills your arteries, they become visible on X-rays and video.

• Angioplasty and stent placement. If your chest pain is caused by a blockage in an artery feeding your heart, your doctor will insert a catheter with a balloon on the end into a large blood vessel in your groin, and thread it up to the blockage. Your doctor will inflate the balloon tip to widen the artery, then deflate and remove the catheter. In most cases, a small wire mesh tube (stent) is placed on the outside of the balloon tip of the catheter. When expanded, the stent locks into place to keep the artery open.

Call for an ambulance or have someone drive you to an emergency room if you experience new or unexplained chest pain or pressure that lasts more than a few moments. Don’t waste any time for fear of embarrassment if it’s not a heart attack. Even if there’s another cause for your chest pain, you need to be seen right away. What you can do

Once you’re at the hospital, it’s likely that your medical evaluation will move quickly. Based on results from an electrocardiogram (ECG) and blood tests, your doctor may be able to quickly determine if you are having a heart attack — or give you another explanation for your symptoms. You’ll probably have a number of questions at this point. If you haven’t received the following information, you may want to ask: