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What is chest pain?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Chest pain, a type of visceral pain, can result from a variety of different problems. Generally speaking, it can be associated with the heart, lungs, ribs, or muscles, and tendons in the area. Chest pain associated with the heart can be angina, which results from a lack of blood and oxygen. A heart attack is like angina but more severe. Inflammation is also a possibility. If caused by the lungs, chest pain can imply pneumonia or asthma.

Chest pain (angina) is discomfort caused when your heart muscle doesn't get enough oxygen-rich blood. It may feel like pressure or squeezing in your chest and can be felt anywhere in the chest area from the level of your shoulders to the bottom of your ribs. Many other problems can also cause chest pain.
Chest pain refers to a discomfort or strange feeling in the chest area. It can be described as pressure or achiness. Chest pain can radiate into the arm, jaw, neck, upper belly and shoulders.
Chest pain is a syndrome or a clinical manifestation (the body sending an “alarm” signal in the form of pain) that may represent a serious illness or a minor non-significant self-limiting condition. It comes in many varieties, ranging from a sharp stab to a dull ache. Some chest pain is described as crushing or burning. In certain cases, the pain travels up the neck, into the jaw, or may start or radiate through to the back or down one or both arms.
Chest pain can feel like pressure, stabbing, burning or squeezing. The many different body systems which cause chest pain are: heart, lungs, stomach/gall bladder, musculoskeletal/nervous systems (bones/muscles/nerves). Providing your physician details about quality (pressure/stabbing/burning/squeezing), timing and duration (with activity, at rest, after food, related to position, lasting seconds/minutes/hours/days), and associated symptoms (nausea, shortness of breath, arm/shoulder pain) will help determine which body systems are more likely to be causing the chest pain.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.