Chest Pain

Name Cause of chest pain Symptoms of chest pain Location of pain How to relieve chest pain
Angina Angina occurs when there isn't enough oxygen-rich blood flowing to part of your heart. Angina is caused by narrowed coronary arteries.
  • discomfort, tightness, pressure, squeezing, heaviness, dull ache
  • Additional symptoms may include:
  • nausea, shortness of breath, strange feeling or tingling/numbness in the neck, back, arm, jaw or shoulders light headedness, irregular heart beat
  • May be felt in the centre of the chest or across the chest, into the throat or jaw, down the arms, between the shoulder blades
  • Unstable angina may be unrelated to activity or stress, comes on more frequently or takes longer to ease
  • Angina symptoms can gradually get worse over 2 to 5 minutes.
  • Angina usually lasts less than 15 minutes
  • Rest
  • Anginine – dissolved under the tongue or
  • Nitrolingual sprayed under the tongue
  • Heart Attack A heart attack happens when plaque cracks inside the narrowed coronary artery - causing a blood clot to form.
  • If the blood clot totally blocks the artery, the heart muscle becomes damaged
  • similar to angina however last longer than 15 minutes and are not relieved by rest
  • Anginine or Nitrolingual spray
  • Additional symptoms may include:
  • nausea, vomiting, pale skin, shortness of breath, sweating Heart attacks can also occur with unusual chest pain or no pain
  • unable to pinpoint exact spot
  • May be felt in the centre of the chest or across the chest, into the throat or jaw, down the arms, between the shoulder blades
  • A heart attack is a medical emergency.
  • If pain is not relieved by Anginine or Nitrolingual spray in 10 to 15 minutes
  • Stop any physical activity
  • ‘Stent’ Pain Stent pain is quite common after a coronary stent is inserted and is thought to be caused by stretching of the artery during the procedure
  • sharp, niggling, localized, fleeting, comes and goes, not related to physical activity
  • middle or left side of chest
  • can usually pin point the spot where it hurts
  • sitting up and leaning forward
  • Pericarditis Pericarditis is irritation and swelling “inflammation” of the hearts sac that surrounds the heart. Causes include:
  • viral infection, heart attack (Dressler’s Syndrome) – usually occurs 2-5 weeks after heart attack
  • recent heart surgery
  • sharp, stabbing, pain not relieved with rest
  • Additional symptoms may include:
  • fever, weakness, shortness of breath, coughing, heart palpitations (feeling your heart beating faster)
  • middle or left side of chest and can travel to one or both shoulders
  • pain worse when lying down and deep breathing
  • sitting up and leaning forward
  • Musculoskeletal pain after open heart surgery It is common to have some chest discomfort after your surgery as your muscles, ligaments, bones, nerves and wounds are healing
  • aches (dull or sharp), pains, numbness or tingling on chest
  • skin feels sensitive
  • middle or left side of chest
  • may last for 6 months or more
  • try holding a pillow or towel against your chest when you cough or sneeze
  • try a different position
  • use pain killers regularly
  • try massaging and touching chest around the wound to desensitize the nerves
  • Pulmonary embolism or “PE” A pulmonary embolism occurs when there is a sudden blockage, usually caused by a blood clot, of an artery in the lung
  • sharp or stabbing chest pain worse when you take a deep breath
  • burning, aching, dull or heavy sensation in chest
  • sudden shortness of breath
  • cough that can produce blood stained mucus
  • Additional symptoms may include:
  • fast heart rate, sweaty, clammy skin, dizziness or light headedness
  • middle or on one side of chest
  • A pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency.
  • doctors will prescribe medications to dissolve the clot and prevent clots from getting larger
  • Gastro Oesophageal Reflux Disease “GORD” GORD occurs when stomach acid leaks from the stomach into the oesophagus (food pipe)
  • burning chest pain, pressure, discomfort or “heartburn” often worse after eating
  • chest pain not likely to be associated with physical activity or exercise
  • middle or on one side of chest which can move up to neck and throa
  • sitting up or standing upright
  • antacid medication
  • avoiding certain foods and drinks
  • Anxiety The body’s stress response causes:
  • tightening of the chest and rib cage muscles
  • stomach and intestinal distress causing chest pain
  • Pain can be described as:
  • sharp, shooting or burning
  • pressure or chest tension
  • Pain can range from slight to severe and can be related to episodes of nervousness, anxiety, fear or elevated stress
  • can be located all over chest area and spread to upper back
  • stress management
  • relaxation - deep breathing
  • rest