Chest pain: Introduction
Chest pain can be a symptom of a variety of mild to serious disorders, diseases or conditions. Chest pain can result from infection, infarction, inflammation, trauma, malignancy and other abnormal processes.
Chest pain can occur in any age group or population. Chest pain is often associated with a heart attack and other types of heart disease, but it can also occur with a wide variety of other diseases, disorders and conditions. For example, chest pain can result from a relatively mild to moderate condition that is easy to resolve, such as drinking too much coffee, hyperventilation or an anxiety attack.
Chest pain can also be a symptom of serious or life-threatening respiratory conditions. These include pneumothorax, pneumonia acute bronchitis, bronchiolitis, asthma, COPD, pulmonary embolism and pulmonary edema and lung cancer. Chest pain can also occur as a result of conditions of other body systems, such as the gastrointestinal system. For more details about causes, see causes of chest pain.
Depending on the cause, chest pain can be short-term and disappear quickly, such as when chest pain occurs during hyperventilation or when breathing in very cold air. Chest pain can also occur in sudden, severe episodes, such as chest pain that happens with heart attack or pulmonary embolism. Chest pain can also be chronic and ongoing over a long period of time, such as when it is due to COPD or lung cancer.
Chest pain often occurs in conjunction with other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Other common symptoms include shortness of breath, palpitations, cough, fever, abnormal vital signs, rapid breathing (tachypnea) and labored breathing (dyspnea). Complications of some underlying causes of chest pain can be life-threatening and include low oxygen levels and high carbon dioxide levels in the body, sepsis, shock, cardiac arrhythmias, respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest and death.
Diagnosing chest pain and its root cause begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination.
Depending on the suspected cause of chest pain, blood tests may include a complete blood count, which can reveal in infectious process, and cardiac assays, which can reveal a cardiac condition. An EKG and chest X-ray are also performed if the cause of chest pain is suspected to be due to heart disease or a respiratory disease. Continuous cardiac monitoring is also done to watch for cardiac arrhythmias.
An exam also includes listening with a stethoscope to the sounds that the heart and lungs make. Certain types of heart sounds, such as a murmur, point to some underlying causes of chest pain, such as mitral valve prolapse. Certain lung sounds point to some underlying causes of chest pain. For example, wheezing may indicate asthma, and a bubbling sound may point to congestive heart failure or pneumonia.
Other important tests include a noninvasive test called a pulse oximetry is generally performed. This involves clipping a painless device to the fingertip, which can measure the amount of oxygen in the blood.
Depending on the suspected cause of chest pain, other tests can include additional blood tests, culture and sensitivity tests, pulmonary function test, and imaging tests, such as CT scan, nuclear scans, and MRI.
A diagnosis of chest pain and its cause can easily be delayed or missed because chest pain may be mild or vague and for other reasons. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of chest pain.
Treatment of chest pain involves diagnosing and treating the underlying disease, disorder or condition that is causing it. Some conditions can be easily and successfully treated and cured, while others may require more intensive treatment and may not have an optimal prognosis. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of chest pain. ...more »
Chest pain is a serious symptom that will often move
you to the front of the queue if you present at emergency with this symptom,
because chest pain is the classic symptom of a heart attack.
However, there are numerous causes of chest pain,
ranging from less potentially fatal ones (e.g. reflux, heartburn, indigestion,
GERD) to very severe dangerous and life threatening causes (e.g. heart
attack, pneumonia, other lung disorders, other $heart disorders, etc.)
Always seek immediate emergency medical attention for chest pain. ...more »
Chest pain: Treatments
Treatment plans for chest pain are individualized depending on the underlying cause, the presence of coexisting diseases, the age and medical history of the patient, and other factors. Treatment generally involves a multifaceted plan that addresses the cause, eases the pain, decreases the risk of developing serious complications, and helps a person to rest comfortably and ...more treatments »
Chest pain: Misdiagnosis
Diagnosing chest pain and its cause may be delayed or missed because in some cases, chest pain may be vague not and/or not severe enough for a person to seek medical care. Chest pain of a heart attack may be experienced in a wide variety of forms. Typical types of chest pain include epigastric pain, chest squeezing, chest pressure, crushing chest pain and radiating chest pain. In ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Chest pain
Read more about symptoms of Chest pain
Treatments for Chest pain
Read more about treatments for Chest pain
Home Diagnostic Testing
Home medical testing related to Chest pain:
- High Blood Pressure: Home Testing
- Heart Health: Home Testing:
Wrongly Diagnosed with Chest pain?
Chest pain: Related Patient Stories
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Chest pain: Deaths
Read more about Deaths and Chest pain.
Diagnostic Tests for Chest pain
Read more about tests for Chest pain
Causes of Chest pain
See full list of 865
causes of Chest pain
More information about causes of Chest pain:
Disease Topics Related To Chest pain
Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Chest pain:
Chest pain: Undiagnosed Conditions
Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:
Misdiagnosis and Chest pain
Heart attacks can be undiagnosed: Although the most severe symptoms of heart attack are hard to miss,
there are varying degrees of severity.
It is altogether too common for people to die from...read more »
Heart attacks can be overdiagnosed: Although many people die from heart attacks, there are also
many cases where people fear that they have a heart attack, but actually have something milder....read more »
Rare heart condition often undiagnosed: The rare heart condition called long QT syndrome can lead to episodes of palpitations
and rapid heartbeat.
In rare cases, this undiagnosed condition...read more »
Heart attack can be over-diagnosed: Although heart attack is often undiagnosed,
leading to fatality, it can also be over-diagnosed.
People...read more »
Leg cramps at night a classic sign: The symptom of having leg muscle cramps,
particularly at night, is a classic sign of undiagnosed diabetes.
However, there are also various other causes.
See causes of leg cramps or misdiagnosis of...read more »
Blood pressure cuffs misdiagnose hypertension in children: One known misdiagnosis issue
with hyperension, arises in relation to the simple equipment...read more »
Hypertension misdiagnosis common in children: Hypertension is often
misdiagnosed in adults (see misdiagnosis of hypertension), but its misdiagnosis is even...read more »
Vitamin B12 deficiency under-diagnosed: The condition of Vitamin B12 deficiency
is a possible misdiagnosis of various conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (see symptoms of multiple sclerosis).
See symptoms of Vitamin B12...read more »
Read more about Misdiagnosis and Chest pain
Chest pain: Research Doctors & Specialists
Research related physicians and medical specialists:
- Nerve Specialists:
- Cholesterol Specialists:
- Cardiac (Heart) Specialists:
- Pain Specialists:
- Arthritis & Joint Health Specialists (Rheumatology):
- more specialists...»
Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:
Hospitals & Clinics: Chest pain
Research quality ratings and patient safety measures
for medical facilities in specialties related to Chest pain:
Hospital & Clinic quality ratings »
Choosing the Best Hospital:
More general information, not necessarily in relation to Chest pain,
on hospital performance and surgical care quality:
Chest pain: Rare Types
Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:
Evidence Based Medicine Research for Chest pain
Medical research articles related to Chest pain include:
Click here to find more evidence-based articles on the TRIP Database
Chest pain: Animations
More Chest pain animations & videos
Research about Chest pain
Visit our research pages for current research about Chest pain treatments.
Clinical Trials for Chest pain
The US based website ClinicalTrials.gov lists information on both federally
and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.
Some of the clinical trials listed on ClinicalTrials.gov for Chest pain include:
See full list of 98
Clinical Trials for Chest pain
Statistics for Chest pain
Chest pain: Broader Related Topics
Types of Chest pain
Chest pain Message Boards
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Definitions of Chest pain:
Pressure, burning, or numbness in the chest.
- (Source - Diseases Database)
Pain in the chest
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)
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