How Do You Describe Chest Pain

Although chest pain can be caused by a multitude of things, many are not serious. Furthermore, the presence of chest pain does not automatically mean the person is suffering from a heart attack. But because it could be indicative of a heart attack, it is important to seek diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible.

When to Seek Help

For any new, prolonged, worrisome, or severe chest pain, patients should immediately call an ambulance. Should the patient be suffering from a heart attack, time is of the essence and getting to a hospital as soon as possible for treatment is vital.

Patients should not drive themselves to the hospital nor should they ask someone else to drive them. Calling an ambulance vs driving is safer for two reasons:

* As soon as emergency personnel arrive, they will begin to evaluate and treat the chest pain. If the patient drives themselves, treatment will not begin until they arrive at the emergency room.

* Should dangerous heart attack complications (such as serious heart rhythm irregularities) arise on the way to the hospital, emergency personnel have the training to address the problem immediately.

Characteristics and Causes of Chest Pain

How chest pain feels, will vary somewhat depending on its origin and cause. In general, chest pain originates from organs in the chest (lung, esophagus, or heart) or from the bone, muscle, or skin of the chest wall. In some cases, organs proximal the chest, such as stomach or gallbladder, can be the source of chest pain.

Based on its cause, chest pain can be described as feeling:

* Sharp
* Dull
* Burning
* Squeezing
* Tightness

Chest pain can also be isolated to a single location or affect several, including:

* Left or upper chest
* Middle of chest
* Back
* Arms
* Neck
* Jaw
* Entire chest

The chest pain could also get worse with physical exertion or activity, improve with rest, or be accompanied by other symptoms, including:

* Nausea
* Sweating
* Elevated heart rate
* Shortness of breath

Describing Cardiac-Related Pain

Although not always immediately clear whether a cardiac problem is causing chest pain or something else is the culprit, there are ways to help medical personnel identify the cause. For instance:

* Describe the pain – If angina is the cause, people often report chest discomfort vs. pain. It can feel like tightness, squeezing, constriction, pressure, burning, strangling, heartburn, a weight on the chest, or having too tight of a bra. Pain is typically described as stabbing or sharp when angina is not the culprit.

* Pain location – Instead of being isolated, angina is usually felt throughout the upper abdomen and center of the chest. Pain isolated to the left or right side, rather than center of the chest, is probably not angina.

* Pain radiation – Pain typically spreads throughout the upper body with angina. This can include the throat, neck, lower jaw, arms, and shoulders.

* Timing of pain – The onset of angina is typically gradual and worsens over several minutes. Exertion usually aggravates it and rest will lessen symptoms.

* Other symptoms – Those suffering from severe angina or heart attack, may have other symptoms that accompany chest pain. May include sweating, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, fatigue, dizziness, fainting, or abdominal discomfort.

Is Mild Chest Pain Normal