Chest pain can come in many different forms. Whatever you think you’re feeling, it may not seem like a big deal. However, chest pain is the first sign of a heart attack. Many people that die from heart attacks never had any previous problems with their heart health, and the incident comes entirely out of nowhere.
Had they paid attention to the sudden chest pain they were feeling instead of dismissing it as just nothing, their life could have potentially carried on for many more years. That’s why it’s extremely important never to ignore your chest pains, regardless of how minor you think they are. It could be a heart attack, or it could be another potentially harmful condition.
Heartburn and GERD
Heartburn is something that most adults and even some children have to deal with at some point in their lives. It can be the result of eating something that was too spicy. The main reason why you feel heartburn is because of the stomach acids and its contents backing up into your esophagus. While once in a while this isn’t a significant problem, if it’s happening more than twice a week then it could be something more serious called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. GERD, when left without treatment, can lead to bigger health issues like chest congestion, asthma, or Barrett’s esophagus. If you do get Barrett’s esophagus condition, you are at an increased risk for a specifically rare type cancer.
If you had the chicken pox at a young age, the varicella-zoster virus that caused them is likely still in your body. It can stay in there for decades and reactivate when you get older. For most people, it’s usually after the age of 50. The pain and irritation from shingles usually starts in the chest area, which some people can mistake for a heart attack. When it’s varicella-zoster causing the pain, after a few days you will see blisters appear. That’s what is known as shingles. If you get this, you should see a doctor right away. It can be excruciating if not adequately treated with the proper medications.
When your pancreas suddenly inflames, you are going to feel intense pain in the abdomen area that can move up to your chest and make you feel as though you’re having a heart attack. While it might not be quite as severe, it’s still dangerous. Pancreatitis requires emergency medical attention. If you think you are dealing with the common health condition, you should head to the hospital right away and expect to spend a few days there. They are going to pump you full of IV fluids, pain medications, and antibiotics. There will likely be blood work, CT scans, and other test performed to ensure that’s all that’s happening as well.
Coronary Artery Disease
There are arteries in the body that supply blood to your heart. When they fill up from a buildup of plaque, you could suffer from coronary artery disease or CAD. With those arteries being blocked, you will feel chest pains as a symptom that something is wrong. It can lead to a heart attack, arrhythmias, or heart failure if it’s not taken care of right away. For some patients, a stent can be put in, and the problem is taken care of. For others, the only solution is bypass surgery which is a lot more serious. That’s why it is essential to see a doctor at the first sign on chest pains. The longer you let it wait, the more time the plaque has to build up, and the harder the problem is to treat.
Pericarditis usually comes after a viral infection. You will have chest pains because of the layers of tissue around the heart have become inflamed. Autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus can cause the condition, but it more frequently is caused by respiratory infections. The problem is not usually a serious health concern, but it can alter the way you live your life at least for a little while. You should go see a doctor so that he or she can perform the necessary testing like EKGs, CT scans, and chest X-rays to rule out that there is something bigger going on. For most people, it will heal up on its own after a few days of rest and pain medication that’s used for inflammation like ibuprofen.
Don’t ever worry about calling for medical attention when you’re having chest pains. You might feel a little silly if your doctor discovers your only suffering from indigestion and not a more severe condition. However, you are only going to feel that way for a short time. Don’t forget to take into consideration what could have happened had you ignored the problem and it was one that was fatal.
Author Bio –
Peter Jones, the author of this article, writes occasionally in support of Samitivej Hospital in Thailand.