Chest Pains

According to the Mayo Clinic many different problems can cause chest pain or discomfort, and it can be difficult to know what is causing the pain. It can be a sharp, stabbing pain, a dull ache, or feeling of pressure.

When to Call 911

Always call your physician about any chest discomfort you have, but…

If you are having the following symptoms, call 911 immediately.

  • Pressure, burning, fullness, or tightness in the chest.

  • Crushing or searing pain radiating to your jaw, back, neck, shoulders, and one or both arms.

  • Chest pain lasting more than a few minutes, becomes worse with activity, comes and goes, or varies in intensity.

  • Shortness of breath with chest pain.

  • Cold sweats with chest pain.

  • Weakness or dizziness with chest pain.

  • Vomiting or nausea with chest pain.

If you have not been active for an extended period, pay particular attention to sudden sharp chest pain accompanied by shortness of breath.

Also note:

  • Sudden pressure, squeezing, tightness, or a crushing feeling under your breastbone.

  • Rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, or confusion.

  • Excessive sweating or an ashen (gray) color in the skin.

  • Extremely low blood pressure or heart rate.

Do not worry about being embarrassed. Do not put off calling until later. If it’s serious, you need immediate medical attention, and you won’t know if it’s serious unless you see a doctor.

When to Call Your Doctor

Not all chest pain is related to a heart or lung problem, although it can be difficult to distinguish. If you have the following symptoms, it is more likely to be heartburn or indigestion. Call your doctor if you have:

  • Trouble swallowing.

  • Pain that gets better or worse when you change body position.

  • A sour taste or the feeling of vomit in your mouth.

  • Tenderness when you press on your chest.

  • Pain that gets worse when you cough or breathe deeply.

  • Persistent, severe chest pain for many hours.

If you have a fever, chills, or are coughing up mucus, you may wish to call your doctor, as these are signs of other illnesses that may require treatment.

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