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When to Be Concerned About Chest Pain

When to Be Concerned About Chest Pain

The classic heart attack visual is someone clutching their chest, and there’s a good deal of truth to this. That said, heart attacks, which occur every 40 seconds in the United States, aren’t the only causes of chest pain.

To get straight to the question of when to be concerned about chest pain, cardiologist Dr. James Kim has a one-word response: “Always.”  Let’s take a look.

Sudden and acute chest pain

If you or a loved one is experiencing sudden and acute chest pain, accompanied by pain in an arm, shoulder, or jaw, as well as dizziness, difficulty breathing, and nausea, call 911 immediately. These are distinct signs of a heart attack — a medical emergency.

It’s worth noting that you might not experience chest pain, but a tight squeezing or heaviness in your chest.

Causes of chest pain that aren’t heart-related

Before we dive into chest pain that’s related to your cardiovascular health, it’s important to understand that the symptom is associated with a number of different areas of your health.

For example, many people visit the emergency room because of chest pain and difficulty breathing, only to find out that they’re in the midst of a panic or anxiety attack.

As well, gastrointestinal issues can lead to a good deal of discomfort in your chest, which is why one of these conditions is called heartburn.

So, from your mental health to your gastrointestinal health, chest pain can crop up outside of your heart health, but each deserves medical attention.

Ongoing chest pain

Since we’re a cardiology practice, we’re going to focus on cardiovascular issues that can lead to chest pain. Outside of a heart attack, many other conditions and events can lead to chest pain, and many aren’t as life-threatening as a heart attack.

One of our first concerns is angina, which is chest pain or discomfort caused by a lack of oxygen to your heart. Angina isn’t a disease, but a symptom of cardiovascular disease, with coronary artery disease (CAD) leading the charge. 

CAD is a condition in which your arteries are blocked, preventing oxygen-rich blood from reaching your heart.

Another heart-related issue that can lead to chest pain is pericarditis, which is an infection in your heart muscle.

A further possibility is cardiomyopathy, which is stiffening in the muscles in your heart that can lead to chest pain or discomfort.

These are just a few examples to give you an idea about why you should have us investigate your ongoing chest pain. After reviewing your symptoms, we can perform a complete evaluation of your heart health. Not only can we relieve your chest pain, but prevent a far more serious event down the road.

For expert diagnosis and treatment of your chest pain, please contact us at one of our offices in Chula Vista or National City, California, to schedule an appointment.

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