The number of people who suffer from chest pain at one time or another throughout their lives is staggering. For some, the pain is occasional and could be described as more of a nuisance than anything else. For others, it’s something that happens on a routine basis and the pain can be severe, even debilitating. Obviously, one of the first thoughts that most people have when they get pain in the chest is that something could potentially be wrong with their heart. Fortunately, that’s not always the case but it is always a possibility. Here, you can find more information regarding the cause of your chest pain as well as what you can do about it. Most importantly, you can gain a better understanding of when you might be facing an emergency that needs to be addressed right away.
First and foremost, you should know that chest pain isn’t always related to a problem with your heart. There are times when the pain is more closely related to pain from muscle strain or even intercostal pain that is associated with the connective tissue between the ribs. That being said, you should never take it for granted that your chest pain isn’t potentially serious. Any time that you feel pain in your chest, it is crucial that you get checked out by a medical professional immediately. Your overall health depends on having a healthy heart so it is never a good idea to ignore chest pain and assume that it will merely go away. In the following paragraphs, you will gain a better understanding of the different causes of heart-related chest pain. If you experience any of these, you should be evaluated at a hospital immediately.
When people think of chest pain they usually think of a heart attack. The problem is, a heart attack doesn’t always present with the crushing chest pain and falling to the floor that you see in the movies. In fact, you can have a heart attack with very little chest pain. Sometimes there is no pain, but merely discomfort. You may also experience other symptoms such as pain in your shoulder that radiates down to your arm, pain between the shoulder blades, pain in your neck and jaw, sweating, nausea, and a rapid or irregular heartbeat. There are some people that do have the classic symptoms with severe chest pain in the middle or left chest and extreme difficulty breathing. In some cases, these symptoms may be followed by collapse and even loss of consciousness. Some individuals may stop breathing or go into cardiac arrest but others may remain fully conscious and aware of their surroundings. It’s important to note that just because you don’t lose consciousness, that does not mean that serious and potentially irreversible damage to your heart isn’t occurring. As a matter of fact, those who experience fewer symptoms are often in even greater danger because they don’t always seek medical help right away, if at all.
Having a heart attack and failing to seek immediate treatment can damage the heart so severely that it can no longer function correctly. If you survive the initial event, you may notice that you are suffering from frequent chest pain after the fact as well as an increasingly irregular heartbeat. That is precisely why it’s so crucial to get the help you need right away instead of trying to tough it out. In short, there is no way to wait out a heart attack. The longer you wait to seek treatment, the more likely it is for you to suffer lifelong consequences that can dramatically alter the quality of your life and in many cases, reduce your lifespan by several years. If you have high blood pressure, your heart is working extra hard to pump blood to the rest of your body all the time. Over several years, untreated high blood pressure can damage the heart and make you more susceptible to having a heart attack.
It’s also possible for you to experience chest pain when you’re not having a heart attack. Pain that isn’t related to the heart has already been discussed, but other causes of heart-related chest pain include angina and problems with the conduction system of the heart. Angina occurs when blood flow to the heart is reduced. In a heart attack, the blood flow is restricted to the point that a portion of the heart is denied the oxygen-rich blood it needs. When you have angina, blood is still flowing but in reduced quantities. This causes you to feel pain in your chest. It’s your heart’s way of telling you that a problem needs to be addressed.
Your chest may also hurt when other issues are happening with your heart. High blood pressure can make the heart grow larger than normal because it makes it work too hard. Eventually, this can lead to a condition called hypertrophy, or an enlarged heart. The hypertrophic heart does not function as well as it should. It can lead to problems with the electrical system in the heart which in turn causes an irregular heartbeat. If the irregularity is severe enough, it can cause your chest to hurt. An enlarged heart can also cause chest pain because the heart may be struggling to function. When the condition is severe, it can lead to heart failure, which means that your heart is no longer capable of pumping the necessary amount of blood throughout your body effectively.
The moral of the story is that you should never ignore chest pain. If your chest hurts, it’s much better to rule out any problems with your heart as opposed to assuming that the pain will just go away. Your very survival could depend on it.