What is chest pain?
Chest pain is pain felt in your upper body, from your shoulders down to your ribs and may occasionally radiate to your arms or your jaw.
What causes chest pain?
Chest pain can be a symptom of many conditions, however, in all cases it must be taken seriously as it could be a sign of a heart attack. From the point of view of the Cardiologist, chest pain related to the heart is referred to as angina and is caused by a fatty build up that causes narrowing within the blood vessels that supply the heart (coronary arteries). A heart attack occurs if a coronary artery is completely blocked by a clot, usually at the site of narrowing. Angina is suspected if the pain is triggered by physical activity and relieved by rest, feels heavy, pressing or tight or if there are other symptoms such as breathlessness, nausea, sweating or pain that spreads to the left arm. Any chest pain that lasts for more than a few minutes particularly at rest or minimal exertion should be taken seriously and immediate medical attention should be sought.
How is chest pain assessed?
After a careful review of your medical history and examination your Cardiologist will want to perform an ECG and further tests. This may include an exercise stress echocardiogram, CT coronary angiogram, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging or proceed directly to an invasive coronary angiogram.
What treatment will I need if I have chest pain?
Treatments for chest pain may include simple reassurance if the tests on your heart show that there are no serious concerns. In other cases, it may be necessary to start medication or perform angioplasty and stenting to relieve the narrowing in the heart arteries. For some patients, it may be necessary to recommend cardiac surgery by performing a coronary bypass grafting operation.