Chest pain or tightness in the chest refers to symptoms which can have a number of causes. In general, chest pain or tightness is not an indication of a serious condition. Although in some cases, prolonged chest pain or tightness, pain spreading to other parts of the body, and shortness of breath can constitute an emergency.
Chest pain or tightness can be caused by a wide range of conditions. The nature, the timing, and the frequency of the symptoms experienced can offer some clues as to the cause:
Chest sprain - if your symptoms have begun following a chest exercise, or an injury to the chest, and you felt better after resting your chest muscles, a sprain of a chest muscle could be the cause.
Indigestion or heartburn - if your symptoms start after eating, and you also feel bloated or are bringing up fluids, indigestion or heartburn could be the cause.
Chest infection - if you are coughing up mucus, have a high temperature, or the pain intensifies when you breathe, a chest infection could be the cause.
Anxiety attack - if you also experienced an increased heart rate, dizziness and sweating, during a stressful situation, an anxiety attack could be the cause.
Shingles - if you also develop a skin rash which can turn into blisters, as well as a 'tingling' sensation on the skin, shingles could be the cause.
In less common cases, chest pain could be caused by a serious heart condition, such as a heart attack, or pericarditis.
Doctors, especially in an emergency room, will typically check for signs of a heart attack first, as this could be the most serious immediate threat. That doesn't mean your symptoms are suggestive of a serious heart condition.
Among the immediate tests which can be used to assess the cause of chest pain or tightness are; an Electrocardiogram (ECG), blood tests, a chest x-ray and a CT scan. Follow up tests which are ordered can include an ECG, CT scan, stress tests and a coronary catheterization (angiogram).
The treatment which is advised for chest pain or tightness will be dependent on the cause. Treatments can include making lifestyle changes to improve heart health, medications to treat cardiovascular disorders, and in rarer cases, surgical procedures.
We believe the best cardiac care can only be achieved by the best cardiologists in their fields, working together, for you and your heart. Our consultants are able to offer appointments throughout the week and at weekends.
"I cannot stress how great Dr Sen was and still is as my cardiac consultant. Though everyone on the NHS team has been brilliant, Dr Sen was the problem solver when things went wrong and was the grease in the wheels when things slowed down. I'm very grateful to have Dr Sen looking out for me, it's like having my own private doctor, he's quite remarkable!"
"I found Dr Sen and his team very friendly, welcoming and professional. From the moment I entered the Clinic the reception staff, team of nurses and Dr Sen himself were very thorough. Peter and Sam who carried out my tests were also very friendly. A lovely team of people who put my mind at ease each time I visited. I wish them all well and thank them for the wonderful work they do. Dr Sen is a credit to his profession and I know he does a lot of good work not just in England but around the world. Here's to it continuing for a very long time."