Chest pain

Updated: Oct 13, 2020

To start with it is important to note that most chest pain isn't a sign of anything serious BUT you should get medical advice just in case - if for nothing more than piece of mind.

Chest pain has many different causes – here we are only going to highlight the most common. In most patients, chest pain is not caused by a heart problem. The symptoms you develop might help to give you an idea of the cause but we would strongly encourage you not to self-diagnose – see your GP or cardiologist if you're at all worried.

Some of the possible, unrelated to heart problems, causes include:

  • Indigestion & heartburn - chest pain onset after eating, often in conjunction with feeling full/bloated

  • Chest sprain or strain - chest pain onset after chest injury or chest exercise, feels better when resting the muscle

  • Anxiety or panic attack - chest pain is often triggered by worries or a stressful situation, heartbeat gets faster, sweating, dizziness

  • Chest infection - chest pain gets worse when on breathing in and out, often in conjunction with coughing, mucus and high temperature

  • Shingles - chest pain is associated with tingling feeling on skin, skin rash appears that can turn into blisters

When chest pain is associated with heart problems

The most common heart problems that are associated with chest pain include:

  • Pericarditis – which usually causes a sudden, sharp, stabbing pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply or lie down

  • Angina or a heart attack – which have similar symptoms but a heart attack is life-threatening

Generally speaking, you are more likely to have heart problems if you're older or know you're at risk of coronary heart disease.

For example, if you:

It is important to see urgent medical advice (999) if you chest pain:

  • Spreads to your arms, back, neck or jaw

  • Makes your chest feel tight or heavy and started with shortness of breath, sweating and feeling or being sick

  • Lasts more than 15 minutes

It is important to have a check up if you have chest pain which:

  • Comes and goes

  • Goes away quickly but you're still worried

This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.