Chest Pain: When Should You See a Doctor?

Chest pain — those two words often cause people to automatically assume heart attack. While chest pain is one of the primary symptoms of a heart attack, chest pain is associated with a wide range of conditions, from acid reflux to chronic heart health issues.

At Modern Heart and Vascular Institute, Dr. Rajiv Agarwal and our team specialize in cardiovascular issues, and we understand the fear that can accompany a symptom like chest pain. To give you a better idea about what this symptom may signal, here’s a look at some of the more common causes of chest pain and when you should seek our help.

Not all chest pain is the same

Chest pain is an extremely broad symptom, and we emphasize the word “symptom,” as chest pain itself isn’t a condition, but a signal that a potential problem exists. Take, for example, angina, which is chest pain that occurs when your heart isn’t getting enough blood.

The pain that accompanies angina can include the following characteristics:

Angina is usually caused by coronary artery disease, which develops over time and can place you more at risk of developing serious heart disease, which is why we recommend early intervention.

Now, let’s take a look at the chest pain associated with a heart attack. In these cases, the pain is usually severe and sudden and affects not only your chest, but can travel to your shoulder, neck, jaw, or arm. You may also experience nausea and vomiting, as well as dizziness and sweating. Should these symptoms occur, call 911 immediately.

There are other conditions that can lead to chest pain, including:

The bottom line is that all of these conditions benefit from medical attention in some way, whether immediate or at our offices during a scheduled appointment.

Chest pain not related to your heart

There are other conditions that can cause chest pain that don’t involve your heart, with acid reflux leading the charge. This condition can cause a burning sensation in your chest that may feel like it comes from your heart, but it actually stems from your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. If this type of pain comes on after eating and you’re also experiencing symptoms near the back of your throat, it points toward a GI problem.

Another condition that may cause discomfort in your chest is a panic attack, which can lead to the feeling of your chest being squeezed, shortness of breath, and/or the sensation that your heart is beating out of control.

When to get help

When it comes to chest pain, our view is that you should err on the side caution and have us check you out. At best, we find nothing and you have peace of mind. Conversely, we may find a problem with your cardiovascular health, but this knowledge allows us to take early action.

If you’re experiencing chest pain, contact our office in Humble, Texas, so that we can fully evaluate the problem.

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