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Each year in the United States, millions of men and women head to the emergency room with chest pain. While most are worried that they may be having a heart attack, only about two in five of these emergency visits end with this particular diagnosis. The team of board-certified physicians at My Emergency Room 24/7 in San Marcos, Texas has the experience and expertise it takes to diagnose and treat chest pain quickly and accurately. If you or someone in your family is experiencing chest pain, come in for an emergency, no-wait evaluation any time.

Chest Pain Q & A

What causes chest pain?

Chest pain is any type of pain or general discomfort you feel along the front side of your body in the area between your upper abdomen and neck. Any organ or tissue in your chest can cause chest pain, including your heart, lungs, esophagus, muscles, tendons, ribs, or nerves.

Pain that originates in your chest can radiate up your neck, into your jaw, and then back down into one or both of your arms. Similarly, pain that originates elsewhere in your body, including your neck, abdomen, or back, can radiate or spread into your chest.

Heart-related causes of chest pain include:

  • Heart attack
  • Angina, or poor blood flow to the heart
  • Aortic dissection, or a tear in the wall of the artery
  • Pericarditis, or inflammation

Lung-related causes of chest pain include:

  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Pulmonary embolism, or a blood clot in the lung
  • Pneumothorax, or a collapsed lung
  • Pleurisy, or inflammation

Other common causes of chest pain include:

  • Heartburn or acid reflux
  • Panic attacks or anxiety
  • Stomach ulcers or gastritis
  • Gallstones or pancreatitis
What does heart-related chest pain feel like?

Besides having many potential causes, chest pain can take different forms, ranging from a dull, general ache to a crushing, burning, or stabbing pain.

Many people who have had heart attacks describe feeling vague discomfort rather than distinct or pronounced pain. Chest pain that’s caused by a heart attack or another heart problem is generally associated with one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain that lasts for a while and gets worse with activity
  • Chest pain that comes and goes and varies in intensity
  • Intense chest pain that radiates into your back, neck, jaw, shoulders, and one or both arms
  • Pressure, tightness, or squeezing in your chest

People who have heart-related chest pain may also experience shortness of breath, cold sweats, dizziness, weakness, and nausea or vomiting.

When does chest pain require emergency medical care?

If you’re experiencing chest pain, call 9-1-1 or have someone else drive you to My Emergency Room 24/7 as soon as possible. Since chest pain can point to a life-threatening problem, immediate medical care can be life-saving.

The team at My Emergency Room 24/7 usually tests for a heart attack first by performing an electrocardiogram (ECG) and a blood test that checks for elevated levels of proteins and enzymes that are normally found in your heart muscle.

If you’re having a heart attack, the team at My Emergency Room 24/7 can help determine the underlying cause of your discomfort and ease your pain with personalized treatment. To learn more, call the office or stop by any time.