Is Chest Pain Ever Normal?

Is Chest Pain Ever Normal?

Pain is your body’s built-in warning system. And though some pains are short-lived and no big deal, it’s safe to assume that chest pain is never normal. 

The tricky part is figuring out why your chest is hurting. Because there are a variety of reasons why you’re experiencing chest pain, our team of experts at HealthStone Primary Care Partners are here to take the guesswork out of your chest pain. 

Keep in mind, chest pain should never be ignored. If you are experiencing unusual chest pain symptoms, call 911 immediately. 

When it’s not your heart

Your first instinct may be that chest pain equals a heart problem. But that’s not always the case. 

Chest pain is a common symptom linked to conditions such as:

Many of these conditions trigger chest pain different from the pain associated with a heart attack. For example, non-heart-related chest pain may occur when you move, or the pain may come from a location outside your heart.

Chest pain from conditions that aren’t heart-related typically doesn’t last long. On the other hand, chest pain caused by a heart attack is unrelenting and can’t be relieved by relaxing or taking an antacid.

When it is your heart

Chest pain can also be a symptom of many heart conditions, and it's typically accompanied by other symptoms.

Some of the most common heart conditions include pericarditis, myocarditis, heart valve disease, aortic dissection, and coronary artery disease.

Pericarditis

Pericarditis refers to an inflammation of the tissues that surround your heart. The pain caused by pericarditis is usually sharp or stabbing, but it can also be a dull, achy type of chest pain. You may feel the pain in your left neck or shoulder, and it may get worse when you lie down, swallow food, or take a deep breath.

Myocarditis

If you have myocarditis, it means your heart muscles have become inflamed. In addition to chest pain, myocarditis can cause arrhythmias, shortness of breath, fatigue, and leg swelling. 

When myocarditis is caused by a viral infection, it may also result in a fever, body aches, joint pain, and a sore throat.

Heart valve disease

When one or more valves in your heart don’t work properly, you may experience chest pain. It can often trigger abdominal swelling, shortness of breath, dizziness, an irregular heartbeat, and swelling in your ankles and feet.

Aortic dissection

The aorta is the large artery that carries blood from the heart to your body. Aortic dissection is a rare but serious disease that occurs when the inner layers of the aorta tear. 

The symptoms of aortic dissection may resemble a heart attack or stroke, which means you may have sudden severe chest or upper back pain, shortness of breath, difficulty speaking, loss of vision, and loss of consciousness.

Coronary artery disease

Coronary artery disease, which is the most common heart disease, develops when excess fatty plaque builds up in your coronary arteries. When that happens, it blocks blood flow and deprives your heart of oxygen, causing chest pain. Chest pain caused by blocked arteries is called stable angina.

A note on angina versus a heart attack

Stable angina causes chest pain that’s triggered by walking, climbing stairs, or other activities that kick your heart into overdrive. The chest pain associated with stable angina doesn’t last long and goes away when you rest or take nitrate medication.

Alternatively, chest pain caused by a heart attack comes on suddenly, isn’t triggered by physical exercise, doesn’t improve with rest, and the symptoms intensify or get worse.

When you have a heart attack, you’re also more likely to have other symptoms such as pain in your jaw, neck, arm, or back, as well as shortness of breath, nausea, or lightheadedness.

If you have any questions about chest pain, call the office or click to request an appointment at either our Weston, Pembroke Pines, or Davie, Florida, offices. 

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