There are multiple causes of chest pain, ranging from benign musculoskeletal etiologies to life-threatening cardiac disease. It is important to be aware of these causes and able to sort out which one is causing your chest pain and whether to seek immediate help before it is too late. Before the advancements of all these technologies assisting doctors in finding causes for chest pain such as imaging studies and angiogram, the best clues usually could be obtained from clinical history pertaining to high-risk conditions for underlying life-threatening illnesses.
The life-threatening causes of chest pain include:
- Acute coronary syndrome leads to a heart attack. Risk factors include hypertension, diabetes and age over 55 for men and 65 for women
- Aortic dissection rupture of the Aorta causing a massive bleed in the chest. Risk factors include hypertension, smoking, and atherosclerosis
- Rupture of the esophagus or perforating peptic ulcer-causing gastric contents entering the chest cavity and causing chest pain
- Pulmonary embolism due to clot coming from other places such as lower extremities. Risk factors include being sedentary after a surgical procedure, smoking and birth control pills
- Tension pneumothorax risk factors are spontaneous or trauma to the chest
Benign causes of chest pain include heartburn, chest wall irritation or referred pain from thoracic spine and psychogenic such as panic disorder.
All of the above-mentioned diseases can cause chest pain and it is important to decipher how urgent the condition is to seek immediate help.
Please contact our office if you have chest pain and are in a high-risk category.