When should I be worried about chest pain?

When should I be worried about chest pain?

Heart is one of the vital organs in humans. Although it is a vital organ, people tend to take heart health lightly. Health matter is usually taken for granted until a person experiences severe pain or complications that affects their quality of life. Chest pain is always associated with chest pain. Chest pain can cause worries for the fear of possible heart attack but truthfully chest pain can also be caused by conditions beside the heart. The question now is, when should you be worried about chest pain?

Chest pain is usually described as a burst of pain that packs a punch to the chest. Chest pain is any sort of pain that can be felt from the jaw down to the bottom of the ribs. It is always associated with potential heart attack but not all cases of chest pain are caused by heart attack. Apart from heart attack being the number one suspicion behind chest pain, other causes include blood clots in the lungs, straining of muscles in between the ribs, acid reflux, asthma attack and anxiety. It is understandable that chest pain can cause great worries but the first thing to do is to try to take a deep breath first. Then, if below symptoms persists, it is the right time to be really worried:

  • Chest pain that lasts for more than 5 minutes
  • Feeling pressure, heavy, crushing on the chest or tighten chest
  • Unexplained chest pain
  • Sudden chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Light-headedness
  • Chest pain that spread to the arm, back, jaw or neck

The above symptoms should cause worry as it could be symptoms of heart attack. Heart attack symptoms are important to be addressed and need to be taken seriously. If any of the symptoms happens, please seek emergency medical attention or call an ambulance. A person with any of the above symptoms should stop whatever they are doing and rest while waiting to receive medical care. Do not attempt to drive yourself to the hospital. Loosen any tight clothing or accessories such as collar buttons and ties. Avoid drinking or eating unless the doctor told otherwise.

 If you are unsure if the symptoms of chest pain is serious or not and unsure the source of chest pain that happens frequently or lasts several days, it is best to seek medical advice. If chest pain gets severe and lasts for several minutes, and does not seem to be relieved by rest, these are signs to get immediate medical attention. It is important to never assume chest pain is harmless as the ending for a heart attack is usually at an all time high. Hence, chest pain deserves the attention it needs and not to be brushed off.

Women tend to think that they may not have heart attacks as they think they are invincible to heart diseases but it is not entirely true. Women might be thinking that they are protected by their estrogen hormones but this is not 100% true especially in women that have reached menopause or have undergone surgery of removing their uterus and/or ovaries before menopause age. Estrogen hormone is known as providing a heart protective effect but when a person is on a low level of estrogen such as postmenopausal women, they have high risk for heart diseases and heart attack. The high risk for such a condition is precipitated by the increase of cholesterol in the body, changes of the blood vessels susceptible to blood clot and fatty plaques inside the wall of blood vessels.

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 Heart attack in women does not always come with chest pain as its warning sign. This makes women think that symptoms that they are having are deemed to not be related to heart attack. Plus, women have high pain tolerance making heart attack symptoms seem subtle and nonspecific. This ends up with women not getting the immediate medical care needed. Hence, when a woman is presented with chest pain, they should tell their healthcare provider detailed symptoms and at least to get an ECG test before they are allowed to continue with their life.

Study shows that less than 6% of patient’s presented with chest pain upon arrival at the emergency room had a life-threatening heart issue. Thus, this means that the remaining is not a heart attack but still needs to be treated but not as urgent as a heart attack. Momentary chest discomfort or brief zap of swift stabbing of the chest, pain that gets worse when moving or changing body positions, chest pain that improves with little body movement and potential panic attack are signs of a less serious chest pain.

In essence, chest pain may be a sign of a serious condition such as heart attack but it could also mean a condition that is less serious and less urgent. However, the best advice is to just meet a doctor when you are presented with chest pain and get to the emergency care when suspected with a heart attack. It is better to be safe than sorry.

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