Chest Pain: Causes, Symptoms And First Aid Information

By Nupur Jha

Chest pain can be caused due to various reasons ranging from something as minor as indigestion to something as serious as a heart attack.

If you suffer from chest pain for the first time it might be hard to detect the cause behind the pain. In case you experience chest pain which lasts for a few minutes, take it seriously and consult a doctor immediately. According to the statistics by the National Center for Health Studies (NCHS), 13% of emergency room visit due to heart pain end up as a heart attack. In this article, we will provide information about the first aid for chest pain.

chest pain

Causes Of Chest Pain

There can be various causes of chest pain like:

1. Heart-related
2. Lung-related
3. Gastrointestinal
4. Bone Or Muscle-related
5. Other causes

1. Heart-related causes:

- Coronary artery diseases (CAD)
- Myocardial infarction
- Coronary artery dissection
- Myocarditis
- Pericarditis
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
- Mitral valve prolapse

2. Lung-related causes:

- Viral bronchitis
- Pneumonia
- Blood clot
- Leakage of air into the chest from the lung or pneumothorax
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Narrowing of the air passage or bronchospasm

3. Gastrointestinal causes:

- Oesophagus related disorders
- Heartburn or acid reflux
- Pancreas or gallbladder inflammation
- Gallstones

4. Bone or muscle-related causes:

- Compress fracture
- Injured or fractured ribs
- Chronic pain syndrome or sore muscles caused by exertion

5. Other causes:

- Panic attacks
- Painful rashes called shingles
- Emotional stress
- Blockages in the heart's blood vessels or angina
- Inflammation of cartilage that connects the rib to the breastbone or costochondritis
- Blockage of one of the pulmonary arteries in the lung or pulmonary embolism

First Aid For Chest Pain

Heart attack:

  • In case of a heart attack you experience the symptoms like pain during exertion, pain in the jaw, arm or back, tightness or pressure in the chest, dizziness, fatigue, abdominal pain, and short breathness.
  • Avoid driving to the hospital unless that's the only option you got. The patient's treatment will start as soon as the ambulance arrives.

Angina:

  • The symptoms of angina include chest pain accompanied by pain in the jaw, arm, back or neck, fatigue, nausea, sweating, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
  • Give a nitroglycerin tablet or nitroglycerin spray to the person under the tongue and wait for five minutes to see if the person is feeling better or not.
  • In case there is no improvement in the person's condition call an ambulance by calling an ambulance.
  • If a person has chronic stable angina - a common type of angina-dissolve a nitroglycerin tablet under his tongue or provide a nitroglycerin spray and repeat this process again in a gap of 5 minutes till the person takes 3 tablets.
  • If angina prevails despite giving the 3 doses in a gap of 5 minutes each, call an ambulance and also give that person a regular-strength aspirin of 325 mg.

[NOTE: Make sure the person is not having any history of aspirin allergy]

  • If taken to the hospital, the patient will be analysed by a doctor to figure out whether the root cause of the chest pain is heart attack or something else. The person would undergo tests like blood tests, chest X-ray and ECG.
  • Do inform the medic of this person regarding this emergency situation in order to keep a follow up on his health.

Acid reflux:

  • Call an ambulance if a person shows any symptoms like shortness of breath, nausea, pain in jaw or arm, etc., because heart attacks are often mistaken for acid reflux.
  • Give an antacid to the person.
  • The person will be checked by the doctor to find out the exact cause of the chest pain and he might have to undergo tests which will include blood tests, chest X-ray and ECG.
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