Chest pain: all about chest pain

Pain in the left side of the chest can have different causes and consequences. It is therefore important to consult a professional quickly in case of pain.

If you feel or have ever felt chest pain, find out in this article where it could come from and what to do to treat it.

How to define chest pain?

Chest pain can manifest itself in a variety of ways, from specific pain points, tightness or weight to stabbing pain, etc.

These pains can have different origins but must lead to consulting quickly.

Chest pain can, in fact, be a sign of pain in the midst of myocardial infarction (heart attack), although there are many other possible causes.

Chest pain may extend from the neck to the sternum, diffuse or localized.

What causes chest pain?

There are many causes of chest pain, but the most concerning are heart and lung causes.

Cardiac causes

Various heart problems can lead to chest pain, which sometimes manifests itself only as a slight feeling of tightness or discomfort.

The pain can also lead to a violent crushing sensation that radiates to the neck, jaw, shoulders, and arms (especially on the left). It lasts several minutes, worsens during physical exertion, and decreases at rest.

Chest pain may be accompanied by shortness of breath. These pains can be caused by:

  • a heart attack or myocardial infarction: the pain is intense, brutal, and requires calling for help quickly;
  • angina pectoris or angina, which is an insufficient blood supply to the heart. This poor irrigation is usually due to damage to the coronary arteries, the vessels that bring blood to the heart (they become clogged). It is a chronic disease that can lead to a heart attack. About 4% of adults have coronary artery disease. The pain is typically localized behind the sternum, triggered by the exertion. It can radiate to the neck, jaws, shoulders, or arms, sometimes in isolated locations.
  • a dissection of the aorta, which corresponds to the entry of blood inside the wall of the aorta;
  • pericarditis, which is inflammation of the lining around the heart, pericardium or myocarditis, inflammation of the heart itself;
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (a disease that causes the lining of the heart to thicken);
  • other causes.

Other causes of chest pain

Organs other than the heart can cause chest pain:

  • pulmonary causes: pleurisy, pneumonia, lung abscess, pulmonary embolism, etc.;
  • digestive causes: gastroesophageal reflux (burns behind the sternum), diseases of the esophagus, gastric ulcers, pancreatitis;
  • muscle or bone pain (e.g. rib fracture)
  • anxiety and panic attacks;
  • other causes.

What are the consequences of chest pain?

The consequences of chest pain depend on the cause of the pain.

In any case, in addition to being unpleasant, the sensation generates stress, because chest pain is reminiscent of a heart disorder.

To know the causes and reassure, it is important to consult your doctor without delay.

Stable angina

In the case of stable angina, pain can limit physical activity and be anxiety-provoking.

Taking medication and adequate medical follow-up should make it possible to limit the inconveniences associated with angina.

What are the solutions in case of chest pain?

Once the cause is objectified by the doctor, an appropriate treatment will be proposed.

In the case of angina, for example, it is important to carry with you at all times a drug called nitrate derivative (sublingual spray, tablets), which must be taken as soon as pain occurs.

The goal of treatment for stable angina is also to prevent the recurrence of “anginal attacks” (antianginal treatment) and to avoid the progression of the disease (background treatment).

In all cases of chest pain, whether the cause is cardiac, pulmonary, or digestive, smoking should be stopped as soon as possible.

Image Credit: Image by Drazen Zigic on Freepik

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