What is chest pain?
Every year, millions of people visit hospital emergency rooms with chest pain. This pain may be sharp and stabbing or dull and aching. You may feel a burning sensation that radiates into your back, neck, or down one or both arms.
Most of the time, chest pain isn’t related to a problem with your heart or arteries. However, chest pain may signal a life-threatening problem, like a heart attack, pulmonary embolism, or aortic dissection.
When is chest pain a symptom of a heart attack?
Chest pain is one of the warning signs that a heart attack is about to occur. You should seek emergency medical care if you experience the following signs and symptoms of a heart attack:
- Uncomfortable pressure, burning, or tightness in the center of your chest
- Pain, numbness, or a “pins and needles” sensation in your back, neck, jaw, or arms
- Sudden weakness, heaviness, or aching in one or both arms
- Hot flashes or cold sweats
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness, fatigue, or light-headedness
Don’t attempt to self-diagnose chest pain. This may be a sign of a serious, life-threatening problem that requires immediate medical attention.
Even if you’re young, in great shape, and have no history of heart problems, chest pain must be taken seriously. Don’t hesitate to call South Shore Cardiovascular Associates at the first sign of chest pain. They may recommend you schedule an appointment or go to the emergency room.
How is chest pain diagnosed and treated?
First, your provider at South Shore Cardiovascular Associates evaluates you as if you’re having a heart attack. If they can rule out a heart attack, they look for the underlying cause of your chest pain. They may take diagnostic tests, including:
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan
- Stress tests
- Blood tests
- Chest X-ray
After they diagnose the cause of your chest pain, the team at South Shore Cardiovascular Associates develops a personalized treatment plan. This may include taking medications to treat your specific condition. Serious problems may require surgery.
If you or someone close to you is experiencing chest pain that may be due to a heart attack or other heart problem, call South Shore Cardiovascular Associates right away.