Chest Pain and Tightness
Chest pain or tightness of the chest can be a sign of serious heart problems. At CardioCare we can identify the root of the problem and put your mind at ease.
What is Chest Pain/Tightness?
Chest pain or tightness in the chest refers to symptoms which can have a number of causes. The chest pain or discomfort originating from the heart (Angina Pectoris) occurs when your heart muscle does not get enough oxygen rich blood due to a narrowing or even blockage of the heart arteries (coronary arteries).
You experience the feeling of pressure, squeezing, tightness, or crushing under your breastbone, that spreads to your jaw, left arm, or back, shortness of breath. Sometimes it feels only like indigestion.
Excluding a cardiac cause is the most important step in the diagnose of a patient with chest pain and will already give you a big psychological relieve, when knowing it is not the heart - non cardiac causes can be musculoskeletal pain (caused by the muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, and nerves), lung conditions e.g. pleuritic pain, stomach problems like gastroesophageal reflux disease, constipation, bloating, stress, anxiety, depression et cetera.
What causes chest pain/tightness?
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 other cases, chest pain could be caused by a serious heart condition, such as angina and a heart attack.
How is my chest pain/tightness assessed and what treatment will I need?
Doctors will typically check for signs of a heart attack first, as this could be the most serious immediate threat.
We will take a thorough medical history and assess your cardiac risk factors. A good physical exam will already lead to our diagnosis. Among the immediate tests is an Electrocardiogram (ECG), blood tests and often a chest X-ray. Follow-up tests which are ordered can include a follow-up ECG, a stress test and, depending on the likelihood of a cardiac origin of your symptoms, a very specific Computer Tomography of the coronary arteries, a so-called coronary CT-scan.
Under certain circumstances, when the suspicion for coronary artery disease is high, your doctor may even perform a minimally invasive coronary catheterization (coronary angiogram – the “gold standard”) which can not only diagnose a blockage of the heart arteries, but also immediately treat this lesion with a Balloon Dilatation and Stent placement.
In summary the treatment which is advised for chest pain or chest tightness will be dependent on the cause. Treatments can include making lifestyle changes to improve heart health, medications to treat cardiovascular disorders, up to minimally invasive coronary artery angiograms.
What interventions/ treatments does CardioCare offer for Chest pain?
CardioCare takes every chest pain serious. All diagnostic tests are performed immediately and in case we confirm the heart as the cause of the pain, we will act accordingly: Our Cath lab (coronary angiography room) is open 24h /7 for emergency interventions like angioplasty/balloon dilatation and stent insertion for acute heart attacks.