There are times when slight pains in your chest occur for various reasons, and they are nothing to be concerned with, but how do you know for sure?
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that over 7 million people seek attention in an emergency room for chest pains each year. The American Heart Association also reports that chest pain is one of the top 10 reasons for a trip to the emergency room.
James Kim, MD, an experienced cardiologist in National City and Chula Vista, California, knows that chest pain can be a frightening experience. Almost everyone knows someone who has suffered heart-related difficulties, and unfamiliar feelings or pains near your heart bring to mind all the worst possible scenarios.
In this article, we share some of Dr. Kim’s expertise about chest pain and how you can determine if what you are experiencing merits medical attention.
What causes chest pain?
It may surprise you to learn that there are many medical conditions that can display chest pain as a symptom. Some common examples include:
- Anxiety or depression
- Collapsed lung
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Hiatal hernia
- Muscle strain
- Rib injury
Medical problems or issues that have chest pain as a symptom can stem from respiratory problems, muscle problems, gastrointestinal problems, and of course, heart-related problems. Often, it requires more than a cursory examination to determine the source of your chest pain.
All heart trouble doesn’t mean a heart attack
Heart-related issues, also called cardiac issues, can occur without you having an actual heart attack. Of the problems listed above, some are cardiac issues.
- Pericarditis is when the tissues around your heart become inflamed
- Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle
- Myocarditis is inflammation of your actual heart muscle
While these cardiac issues require care, they are not imminently life-threatening like a heart attack or other serious heart-related problems. Dr. Kim may elect to treat these and other less serious cardiac problems before they grow worse.
These measures usually include implementing a healthy diet, prescribing certain types of exercise, mandating healthy weight loss, and possibly prescribing some medications to control blood pressure or thin the blood.
When does chest pain demand attention?
There are some key signs that your chest pain demands immediate attention by a medical professional, and Dr. Kim believes everyone should be aware of them. You should seek immediate medical attention if your chest pain is accompanied by:
- Burning sensation around your heart
- Cold sweats
- Full feeling in your chest
- Shortness of breath
A signature heart attack symptom is pain that radiates down one or both arms and to your shoulders, jaw, and back. If any of these symptoms occur with chest pain, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room immediately.
Often, the symptoms of heart attack or another serious heart problem are difficult to determine because everyone experiences these events in unique ways. You may notice several symptoms at once, while another person may only feel pressure or one other symptom.
If you feel concerned, do not hesitate to call 911 and seek immediate medical attention.
Dr. Kim can help you achieve and maintain good heart health and prevent many cardiac problems. Call our office in National City or Chula Vista, California, or request an appointment online today at either location to begin improving your heart health.