CHEST PAIN

CHEST PAIN
CHEST PAIN
Causes of chest pain can vary from minor problems, such as indigestion or stress, to serious medical emergencies, such as a heart attack or pulmonary embolism. The specific cause of chest pain can be difficult to interpret. Finding the cause of your chest pain can be challenging, especially if you've never had prior symptoms. Even doctors may have a difficult time deciding if chest pain is a sign of a heart attack or something less serious, such as indigestion.

If you have unexplained chest pain lasting more than a few minutes, it is better to seek emergency medical assistance than to try and diagnose the cause yourself. As with other sudden, unexplained pains, chest pain may be a signal for you to get medical help. Use the following information to help determine whether your chest pain is a medical emergency.

Angina
Angina is chest pain or discomfort caused by reduced blood flow to your heart muscle. Typically the term "angina" is used when you've already been given the diagnosis of heart disease related to atherosclerosis. Angina may be stable or unstable:

  1. Stable angina — persistent, recurring chest pain that usually occurs with exertion and is relatively predictable
  2. Unstable angina — sudden, new chest pain, or a change in the pattern of previously stable angina, that may signal an impending heart attack.


Angina is relatively common, but can be hard to distinguish from other types of chest pain, such as the pain or discomfort of indigestion. If you are having angina with any of the following signs and symptoms, it may indicate a more serious condition, such as a heart attack:

  • Pain in your arms, neck, jaw, shoulder or back accompanying chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
The severity, duration and type of angina can vary. If you have new or changing chest pain, these new or different symptoms may signal a more dangerous form of angina (unstable angina) or a heart attack. If your angina gets worse or changes, seek medical attention immediately.

Pulmonary embolism
Pulmonary embolism occurs when a clot — usually from the veins of your leg or pelvis — lodges in a pulmonary artery of your lung. The lung tissue served by the artery doesn't get enough blood flow, causing tissue death. This makes it more difficult for your lungs to provide oxygen to the rest of your body.

Signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism may include:

  • Sudden, sharp chest pain often accompanied by shortness of breath
  • Sudden, unexplained shortness of breath, even without pain
  • Cough that may produce blood-streaked sputum
  • Rapid heartbeat associated with shortness of breath
  • Fainting
  • Severe anxiety
  • Unexplained sweating
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