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Understanding the Types of Chest Pain

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Causes of discomfort in the chest area are varied, it is essential that you discuss chest pain with your GP.  In most cases it is nothing serious, but it can be, so you must seek diagnosis. If pain is severe, or different to normal if you have a condition you are aware of, seek urgent medical assistance. 


Chest pain can be cardiac, respiratory, musculoskeletal,  gastrointestinal and psychological.  All can be very painful.  It is normal to assume chest pain is heart related but this may not be the case.  Here's a look at some of the key causes of chest pain (not a definitive list). 

Angina

This orginates from the heart itself.  It feels like a heaviness or discomfort  around the breastbone area, but can travel to the arms and neck.  Exercise will worsen angina.  Some people also experience breathlessness. It typically occurs after the age of 50, with more men than women experiencing it.   It is caused by the narrowing of the arteries due to the build up of arterial plaque.  Typically angina is found in those with Coronary Heart Disease., but CHD can be present without there being any noticeable symptoms.

 

Anxiety

Uncomfortable chest tightness and sensations are common in those who suffer anxiety and panic disorders, the worry about the source can trigger more anxiety and a vicous cycle.  It is common for those with severe anxiety to end up in A&E for an ECG to be told that everything is fine (it can be better to go through this and have the reassurance nothing is wrong.).  Anxiety pain however can be very real, very worrying and difficult, thankfully there is lots you can do, and here's some simple anxiety strategies.

 

Cardiomyopathy

This is disease of the heart muscle, it often runs in families. Typically there will be chest pain, breathlessness, palpitations and dizziness.  This is a serious health problem, but with support, lifestyle changes and treatment, most people can live full and complete lives. 

 

Costochondritis

As with anything involving "itis" this is inflammation in the cartilidge, located in the chest wall.  It can cause mild aching discomfort right through to more severe pain including stabbing pain.  Whilst harmless, it can be quite debilitating, lasting for a few weeks, many months, or years for some. It is often described as idiopathic - ie unknown cause, however, there is always underlying reasons for these things. Stress, a strain, or an infection, or even longstanding poor posture can all be to blame.  Acupuncture, hot and cold therapy and gentle stretching can be extremely beneficial.  Try Serrapeptase and see our full article on Costochondritis.

 

Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)

The pain of this is intense and, severe and prolonged.  It is felt in the centre of the chest.  Some will feel cold and sweaty and breathless.  Seek urgent medical assistance.

 

Heartburn

Heartburn is nothing to do with the heart, but can cause very uncomfortable chest sensations.  It is extremely common and usually brought on by certain foods and drinks which cause acid reflux which causes the heartburn.  It causes a burning or tightening sensation behind the chestbone, which is made worse if you bend down.  Some people find Apple Cider Vinegar helpful, also try chamomile tea, pineapple and yoghurt.  Ginger is helpful and see our Get Rid of Gas Naturally article

 

Muscular pain

It's quite easy to strain the muscles in the chest wall, and inflammation can also occur in this area.  Generally with this sort of cheat pain, the area will be painful if moved or pressed and should heal relatively quickly with rest.  Occasionally, back problems can cause muscular issues in the chest area.

 

Pleuritic chest pain

This comes from the lungs rather than the heart and is typically occurs where there has been an infection or following a rib fracture or other injury. Deep breathing or coughing will worsen the pain.

 

Tietze's syndrome

Occurs usually in the upper ribs, it is similar to costochondritis, but involves more localised and visible swelling.

 


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