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.
Some of the first tests the doctor may order include:
Electrocardiogram (ECG). This test records the electrical activity of you hear. Because injured heart muscle doesn’t conduct electrical impulses normally, the ECG may show that you have had or are having a heart attack.
Blood tests – Blood test to check for increased levels of certain proteins or enzymes normally found in the heart muscle may indicate damaged heart muscle as they can leak into the blood stream.
Chest X-Ray – An X-ray of your chest allows doctors to check the condition and size of your heart and major blood vessels. A chest X-Ray can also reveal lung problems such as pneumonia.
Other imaging such as a CT scan can spot a blood clot or make sure you are not having a more serious condition.
In an emergency room setting, the first rule of order is to rule out a potentially life-threatening cardiac event, namely acute coronary syndrome with or without myocardial infraction (heart attack). Diagnosis is important since rapid and aggressive treatment can be necessary to avoid permanent cardiac damage. My Emergency Room 24/7 is available every day of the week 24 hours a day. A prompt visit to My Emergency Room located at 2810 I-H 35 Frontage Road can help stabilize and even save a life should you experience chest pains.