On average, about 6 million people experience chest pain in the United States each year. Chest pain is scary, especially when you’re unsure of the cause. Right off the bat, many people are worried that they’re having a heart attack or experiencing cardiac arrest. Chest pain can be caused by a lot of different things that have nothing to do with the heart.
Although chest pain should always be treated as a serious matter, not all chest pain has to do with the heart. I wanted to share some common causes of chest pain. Some of these causes are more serious than others, but you should always talk to a doctor about the chest pain your experiencing as soon as possible.
Heartburn – If it gets bad enough, heartburn can feel like a heart attack, because the stomach and the heart both can cause chest or epigastric pain. If you think it may be heartburn or acid reflux, take an over-the-counter antacid to soothe the burning you feel.
Anxiety – Panic attacks from anxiety are often mistaken for heart attacks. However, no one has ever died from a panic attack, but that does not mean they are not equally scary to experience. A panic attack can cause chest tightness, lightheadedness, heart palpitations and sweaty palms, which can all be felt during a heart attack. Some people, who have experienced panic attack before, are able to reassure themselves that if a panic attack strikes again they don’t need to worry that their heart is in danger.
Costochondritis – This is the inflammation of the cartilage between the ribs. When this inflammation occurs, a person can feel very sharp pains in his or her chest, especially when taking a deep breath. If a person lifts his or her arms above the head and the feeling worsens, the pain is most likely costochondritis, because a heart attack will not change regardless of how a person moves.
Shingles – Shingles can cause pain around one side of the rib cage, usually accompanied by a rash.
Others potential causes for chest pain: Stomach ulcers, pneumonia, and pancreatitis and lung embolism (a problem potentially as fatal as a heart attack).
For the most part, any issues occurring in the body between the mouth and stomach area can cause a person to experience chest pain. If you’ve been experiencing chest pain, please contact a doctor immediately to rule out anything serious. Dr. Kordonowy of Internal Medicine, Lipid & Wellness in Fort Myers will be able to evaluate your symptoms and run tests to determine the cause of your chest pain. To book an appointment with Dr. Kordonowy, click here or call 239-362-3005, ext. 200.
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