It Might Be Angina Not A Heart Attack
Your doctor may use the word angina or angina pectoris, when discussing your chest pain. Actually, angina is the medical term for chest pain, pressure or tightness but its not the same as a heart attack.
- A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is suddenly and completely cut off, usually by a blood clot.
- Angina occurs when the amount of blood flowing to the heart muscle cant meet the hearts demand for blood.
Blood supply to the heart muscle is typically reduced by atherosclerosis, the build-up of fatty plaque in the arteries that supply the heart. When the hearts demand for blood flow increases in someone with restricted blood supply to the heart, that person may experience angina symptoms, including squeezing, burning, tightness or a sensation of pressure in the chest.
Health experts classify angina in two categories: stable angina and unstable angina. Stable angina occurs during activity or emotional stress, whereas unstable angina typically happens while at rest.
If you have angina, it means you have underlying coronary artery disease, but it doesnt necessarily mean youre having or are at increased risk of having a heart attack.
So how can you tell whether your chest pain is angina or a heart attack? Here are some important differences:
Time = Heart Muscle So Dont Wait To Get Help
If you think youre having a heart attack, Time is of the essence: The longer a coronary artery is 100 percent blocked, the more heart damage will occur.
Never drive yourself or have someone drive you to the hospital, says Schaer. The emergency medical technicians who respond to the 911 call are best equipped to care for heart attack patients, monitor them for any abnormal heart rhythms that can develop and rapidly transport them to the nearest hospital capable of opening the artery with angioplasty.
If youre concerned about chest pain, or if persistent chest pain is interfering with your quality of life, talk to your doctor. He or she can run tests to pinpoint the source of your pain, help you get relief and potentially prevent more serious health problems down the road.
While Waiting For The Ambulance
Stop any activity and rest while waiting for an ambulance. Dont try to drive yourself to hospital. Loosen any tight clothing, such as collar buttons or ties. Avoid breathing in cigarette smoke. Dont have anything to eat or drink.
If you have been prescribed angina medicine, sit or lie down and take a dose of this under your tongue. If this doesnt relieve your symptoms in 5 minutes, try taking 2 more doses at 5-minute intervals.
Chew 300mg aspirin straight away, unless you’re allergic or your doctor has told you not to. Do not give aspirin to anyone under 12 years.
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Why Does Pain In The Esophagus Feel Like Heart Pain
Inside your chest cavity , your esophagus actually runs right alongside the heart. The same sensory nerves send pain signals from both organs to your brain. It can be difficult to distinguish between the two based on symptoms alone. If you have other symptoms of esophageal reflux, such as stomach fluid coming back up through your esophagus, that can be a clue. Other esophageal disorders, such as muscle spasms or visceral hypersensitivity, might be trickier to identify.
Chest Tightness And Back Pain Other Causes
Chest tightness and back pain can be a sign that you need help. Many of the diseases that affect us are due to bad habits we have practiced for years. You may use medicines to help, but the best approach is to change the way you eat and live.
Medicine will help, but you will continue to experience many sicknesses unless you change. If you cut out those things that make you ill, you will soon cease to experience such issues.
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Why Does It Hurt When I Breathe
Often, conditions affecting the area around the heart and lungs may cause pain when you breathe in, particularly if youre taking deep breaths. Some examples include:
What type of treatment youll receive for your chest and back pain will depend on whats causing the pain. Below, well explore some of the treatments that you may receive.
Time = Heart Muscle So Don’t Wait To Get Help
If you think you’re having a heart attack, Time is of the essence: The longer a coronary artery is 100 percent blocked, the more heart damage will occur.
“Never drive yourself or have someone drive you to the hospital,” says Schaer. “The emergency medical technicians who respond to the 911 call are best equipped to care for heart attack patients, monitor them for any abnormal heart rhythms that can develop and rapidly transport them to the nearest hospital capable of opening the artery with angioplasty.”
If you’re concerned about chest pain, or if persistent chest pain is interfering with your quality of life, talk to your doctor. He or she can run tests to pinpoint the source of your pain, help you get relief and potentially prevent more serious health problems down the road.
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Strained Chest Wall Muscle
There are various muscles that run around and between the ribs to help the rib cage to move during breathing. These muscles can sometimes be strained and can lead to chest pain in that area. If a muscle is strained, there has been stretching or tearing of muscle fibres, often because the muscle has been stretched beyond its limits. For example, a strained chest wall muscle may sometimes develop after heavy lifting, stretching, sudden movement or lengthy coughing. The chest pain is usually worse on movement and on breathing in.
Esophageal Conditions Causing Burning Chest And Back Pain:
GERD: There are also certain esophageal conditions which may cause burning chest and back pain. GERD is the primary disorder of the esophagus which causes burning chest and back pain. GERD is caused when the acid produced in the stomach reflux back into the esophagus causing inflammation of the lining of the esophagus. Esophageal spasm is yet another condition which causes burning pain in the chest and back.
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Immediate Action Required: Phone 999 Immediately If:
You or someone else has symptoms like:
- central chest pain or discomfort in the chest that doesn’t go away it may feel like pressure, tightness or squeezing
- pain that radiates down the left arm, or both arms, or to the neck, jaw, back or stomach
- difficulty breathing
- rapid heart beat
- low or undetectable heart beat
- blue or pale tingling of knees, hands and lips
- chest pain and breathlessness, nausea, sweating or coughing up blood
Other Causes Of Chest Pain
There are many other potential causes of chest pain, including:
- gastro-oesophageal reflux disease – acid from the stomach comes up into the oesophagus causing burning chest pain and an unpleasant taste in the mouth
- acute cholecystitis – inflammation of the gallbladder that can cause a sudden sharp pain in the upper right side of your tummy that spreads towards your right shoulder
- strained muscle – can cause chest pain that’s painful and tender to touch
- costochondritis – inflammation in the cartilage that joins the ribs to the breastbone that can cause pain, swelling and tenderness around the ribs
- panic attack or anxiety – can sometimes be accompanied by chest pain
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Diagnosing Upper Back And Chest Pain
If you go to the doctor for upper back and chest pain, the first thing your doctor will want to do is find out what is causing your pain. If you have sudden chest pain along with other symptoms of a heart attack or emergency condition, then you may need to go to the emergency room. Otherwise, your doctor will want to know about what other symptoms you have been experiencing. It also helps to talk to your doctor about when the pain first started and whether or not it has gotten worse over time. Also let your doctor know if certain movements or activities have made your pain worse.
Any recent injuries or changes in your lifestyle and habits can also help your doctor determine the most appropriate diagnosis for your upper back and chest pain. A family medical history will also help your doctor determine if you are at higher risk for certain genetic or hereditary conditions that might cause upper back and chest pain. Your doctor may also want to run diagnostic imaging tests on your upper back and chest to get a better look at what is going on. A CT scan or MRI can provide your doctor with a detailed look at what is going on in your back and chest. Both CT scans and MRIs show bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and organs inside your body.
The Pain May Not Be Coming From Your Heart Or Even Your Chest
While chest pain is one of the hallmarks of heart problems, it’s important to note that any organ or tissue in your chest including the lungs, esophagus, muscles, tendons, ribs and nerves can be a source of chest pain.
“Pain can also radiate to the chest from the neck, abdomen and back, creating the illusion that it’s originating with your heart,” Schaer says. In fact, in roughly 25 percent of people in the U.S. who experience chest pain, the cause is related to parts of the body other than the heart, including the following:
- Gastrointestinal diseases
- Conditions of the lungs or a collapsed lung
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What Does Noncardiac Chest Pain Feel Like
Noncardiac chest pain is often described as feeling like angina, the chest pain caused by heart disease. It feels like a painful squeezing or tightness in your chest, or like pressure or heaviness, particularly behind your sternum. You may feel it on the right side or the left side or in the middle. Sometimes the pain radiates to your neck, left arm or back. You may notice that it occurs after eating, or that it is accompanied by heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest. It can last for a few minutes or a few hours.
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Do People With Noncardiac Chest Pain Have Other Symptoms
People with noncardiac chest pain commonly have other symptoms of GERD, including heartburn and acid reflux. They also report a higher incidence of other gastrointestinal complaints, including sore throat, regurgitation and difficulty swallowing. Up to 80% of those with functional noncardiac chest pain report other functional GI disorders with no obvious explanation, especially IBS and functional abdominal bloating .
For some people, noncardiac chest pain is associated with psychological symptoms, such as stress, anxiety and depression. This is true even when the cause is determined to be something else. In fact, there is a significant crossover between psychological symptoms and symptoms of esophageal hypersensitivity, as well as heartburn. Psychological stress can trigger gastrointestinal symptoms, and vice versa. Doctors have speculated that this is due to a disorder of the gut-brain connection.
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What Are The Warning Signs Of A Heart Attack
There are several different warning signs of a heart attack, and they are not always sudden or severe. Whether or not your chest pain symptoms include mild to severe pain, they should be considered heart-related until proven otherwise.
People having a heart attack may have just one of these symptoms, or a combination of several. They can come on suddenly or develop over a few minutes and get progressively worse. Symptoms usually last for at least 10 minutes.
Warning signs could include:
- discomfort or pain in the centre of your chest a heaviness, tightness or pressure, like something heavy sitting on your chest, or a belt tightening around your chest, or a bad case of indigestion
- discomfort in your arms, shoulder, neck, jaw or back
- other problems such as:
Women and men can experience the signs and symptoms of a heart attack differently.
Although chest pain is thought to be the most common symptom of heart attack and it is common in men only about half of all women who have a heart attack actually report chest pain.
Heart attacks are more common in older people than in younger people, but they can occur in people of any age.
The pain you have may not sound like that described above, but its still important to see a doctor. Remember, all chest pain should be checked out by a doctor as soon as possible.
What Upper Back And Chest Pain Feel Like
Infographic:Upper Back Pain
Upper back and chest pain may begin gradually and worsen over a long period of time, or it can start suddenly without explanation or after an injury. This pain is typically felt more on one side of the spine, but it can be felt on both sides. People with upper back and chest pain usually have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Dull achiness that is felt in the upper back and chest, perhaps just on one side, and/or possibly extending into the shoulder area
- Burning, sharp, or electric-like pain that may worsen with movement, possibly radiating pain along a rib from the upper back to the chest area
- Stiffness in the shoulder, chest, and/or upper back due to pain or muscle tightness, which can reduce the ability to perform basic tasks, such as getting dressed or driving
- Pressure or fullness in the chest rather than pain1
- Increased pain while breathing or trouble taking full breaths
- Trigger points in the upper back and/or chest that feel tender, sore, or tight, and can flare up and spread pain to nearby areas when touched
- Pins-and-needles tingling or numbness that might be felt along the rib or across a bigger area, possibly more in the chest or back
- Pain that spreads into the neck and/or arm, which can range from dull to sharp, and could be accompanied by tingling, numbness, and/or weakness
- Rib pain that travels along the rib or possibly between ribs
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Immediate Action Required: Call 999 If:
You have sudden chest pain that:
- spreads to your arms, back, neck or jaw
- makes your chest feel tight or heavy
- also started with shortness of breath, sweating and feeling or being sick
- lasts more than 15 minutes
You could be having a heart attack. Call 999 immediately as you need immediate treatment in hospital.
Chest Tightness And Back Pain
Many medical conditions can cause chest tightness and back pain. It is vital to take such symptoms seriously and do what you can to receive help. If you can, you should visit the doctor for an evaluation to help determine what is wrong.
If you cant, you will need the advice to help you make sensible decisions. We will provide you with the tools you need, so follow along and take notes.
All medical conditions manifest symptoms that enable doctors to have a general idea of what could be wrong. Without such signs, it would be more challenging to diagnose an individual.
You need to examine the symptoms of the illnesses on the list with your own. Eliminate any that dont match and focus on those that do. Compare that group for similar treatments, which will help determine what you can use.
If you do this, the chances of treating the wrong thing become non-existent. You should notice some easing of the symptoms after some time. We want to encourage you to find your way to a doctor even if you start to feel better.
Here is a list of medical issues that cause chest tightness and back pain.
Complications Associated With Pain In Right Side Of Chest And Upper Back
As an outcome of the pain in the right side of the chest and upper back you might experience other symptoms. These symptoms usually fix themselves as soon as you ease the chest pain and the hidden medical conditions that caused it.
- A burning sensation in the chest and under the breastbone.
- Heartburn into the mouth.
- Unpleasant breathing while lying down.
- Chest discomforts when altering body positions.
Injury Or Muscle Strain
Chest and back pain can sometimes be caused by injury or strain to the muscles in this part of your body, for example due to an accident or fall.
It can also be caused by overuse of the muscles, aided by repetitive motions throughout the day at work or when playing sports.
If you have an injury or strain, the pain is usually worse when you move this part of your body.
If you think you have a strain or injury you should rest to enable it to recover. Painkillers can also help to relieve the pain while your muscles recover, but you should speak to a doctor or pharmacist or doctor about how to get and use these.
- the pain persists even after treating it yourself
- the pain or swelling is getting worse
- you have a high temperature or feel hot and shivery, as you may have an infection
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Pain While Breathing Or Coughing
Pain while breathing or coughing could be a symptom of one of the conditions below.
Issues with the ribs
The muscles between the ribs may become overstretched or partially torn as a result of overuse or injury. This may lead to chest pain and difficulty breathing.
A bruised or broken rib could also cause pain in the chest or mid-to-upper back, particularly when a person breathes in. Some other symptoms include:
- feeling or hearing a crack before the onset of rib pain
- swelling or tenderness around the affected rib
- bruising on the skin
Pneumothorax is a condition in which the lung partially collapses due to air or gas entering into the chest cavity and pressing over the lungs. This results in the following symptoms:
- chest pain in the side of the collapsed lung
- pain when breathing
- shortness of breath
Pneumothorax generally occurs as a result of injury to the chest or as a complication of a chronic lung condition.
Pleurisy refers to inflammation of the membrane that covers the lungs. The condition may cause a sharp pain in the chest that worsens when breathing deeply, coughing, sneezing, or moving around.
Other possible symptoms include:
- blue discoloration of the lips or nails
A pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency. Without prompt treatment, the condition can be fatal.
Pericarditis refers to inflammation of the sac of tissue that surrounds the heart. The condition can occur as a result of an infection or an underlying heart condition.