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Chest Pain

Symptoms of Chest pain could be due to:

Angina Pectoris

Symptoms and indications: The main symptom is pain behind the breastbone, brought on by exertion and relieved by rest. The pain may be more or less severe and often passes to the left arm and face. There may be a numbness or feeling of heaviness and tingling in the whole or part of the left arm. Also, there may be a feeling of choking and breathlessness and tightness across the chest. A person with symptoms of angina should always seek medical advice.

Treatment: Diagnosis is usually confirmed in hospital by means of an electrocardiogram. Treatment involves rest and avoidance of the exertion that caused the angina attack. The patient needs to keep warm, especially in severe winter weather, and may need to adjust the diet and lose weight. Changes in lifestyle may be necessary to avoid tiredness and stress. Medication in the form of glyceryl trinitrate tablets (or amyl nitrite for inhalation) are used to bring immediate relief during an angina attack. It may be necessary for the patient to undergo coronary-artery bypass surgery or angioplasty.

Persons most commonly affected: More common in men in middle and older age, and postmenopausal women.

Coronary Artery Disease
(Coronary heart disease or Ischaemic heart disease)

Symptoms and indications: Often there are no or few symptoms until the arteries are severly narrowed. The disease advances until it causes angina pectoris or coronary thrombosis (which leads to heart attack). These conditions both require immediate medical attention.

Treatment: Requires admittance to hospital and balloon angioplasty (a procedure for dilating the arteries), or coronary bypass surgery may be needed. Various drugs may be prescribed, including painkillers, beta-adrenergic blockers, vasodilators, anticoagulants, and nitroglycerin. The diet should be low in fat and salt and the person should undertake a programme of moderate exercise under doctor's advice. Preventative measures include no smoking, eating a low-fat, low-salt diet, taking regular exercise, and measures to avoid stress.

Persons most commonly affected: Adults of both sexes but much less commom in premenopausal women. There is equal incidence in adults during later years of life.


Symptoms and indications: Unpleasant burning sensation in stomach, gullet and throat.

Treatment: The treatment is relieved by taking antacid tablets or alkaline substances such as sodium bicarbonate.

Persons most commonly affected: Adults of all ages and both sexes. Pregnant women.

Pleurisy or Pleuritis

Symptoms and indications: Generally, a chest pain that starts suddenly and varies in severity from relatively mild to intense. The pain is of a stabbing nature and is worse with movement, breathing, and coughing. Hence, breathing is shallow and rapid, and eventually, a characteristic sound called pleural frictional rub may develop, which can be heard with a stethoscope. The sound may be of a crackling, rasping or grating nature. Fluid may collect between the two layers, called pleural effusion, and this tends to deaden the pain but may decrease lung volume through pressure so that breathing is even more laboured. Sticky fibrous material may be discharged onto the surface of the pleura, which can cause adhesions, although this does not occur in all forms of pleurisy. A person with symptoms of pleurisy should seek medical advice.

Treatment: Depends upon the underlying cause of the pleurisy, and is likely to require admittance to hospital. It involves the use of various drugs, including analgesics, antibiotics and bronchodilators. Strapping of the whole chest with elastic bandages and the use of heat may be needed to ease pain. Measures to ease the coughing up of bronchial secretions (such as the use of humidifiers) may be advised. In some cases, drawing off or aspiration of pleural effusion is required via a small incision in the chest wall. This relieves distressed breathing by enabling the lung(s) to expand properly once more.

Persons most commonly affected: All age groups and both sexes.

Other problems that could cause Symptoms of Chest pain could be connected to: Aneurysm, Aortic valve disease, Artial fibrillation, Coronary thrombosis (Heart attack), Pericarditis, Pneumothorax, Pulmonary embolism, Pulmonary hypertension, Pulmonary valve stenosis and others.





Our service is only to provide guidance and is not designed to replace your doctor. Please seek medical advice from your own doctor if you have any doubts about your illness.


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