Chest pain can be caused by different issues, including infections, injury to the bones, muscles or other soft tissues, lung problems, tumors or issues related to the heart. Some of the causes of chest pain can be life-threatening, which is why it's very important to have any type of chest pain professionally evaluated to determine the underlying cause so the most effective treatment can be promptly administered.
One of the most common types of chest pain associated with heart disease is angina, which occurs when blood flow to the heart is disrupted. Angina usually occurs when sticky plaque builds up inside the arteries, slowing or preventing blood flow. Sometimes, it occurs when the blood vessels don't contract and relax properly. Other types of heart-related chest pain include painful pressure in the chest or abdomen and radiating pain that travels from the chest to the arms, shoulders, neck or jaw. Chest pain may also be accompanied by symptoms like shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness or nausea. Any of these symptoms require immediate attention by a doctor.
Chest pain can be evaluated using many methods, depending on the specific symptoms you're experiencing and other factors. EKGs are commonly used as an initial test to check the electrical activity of the heart. Other tests include MRIs, chest x-rays, CT scans and ultrasound. If a heart attack is suspected, you'll probably have a blood test to measure the levels of specific proteins that are released when a heart attack occurs. In some cases, a minimally-invasive procedure called cardiac catheterization may be performed to look inside the vessels in your chest and check for blockages that could be interfering with blood flow. Personal and family medical histories are also important for obtaining a proper diagnosis.
That depends on the cause. Some types of chest pain can be treated with medication or lifestyle changes, while others may require surgical procedures to remove blockages or reroute circulation.