Many people ignore medical problems and wait weeks or months to visit a hospital or clinic for an ailment. This can be a poor choice if you are experiencing chest pain. You should call 911 or ask a family member to drive you to the hospital if you experience the discomfort. If you want to understand why chest pain should not be ignored, read through the information below so you are well aware of the possible conditions that may affect you and how they will be treated.
Why is it Happening?
Chest pain can be caused by any number of things, and it is considered a serious ailment that must be explored immediately. In many cases, the pain is a symptom of a heart condition. This is especially true if your chest feels tight and pain starts to radiate down the limbs. Angina, pericarditis, and a heart attack all cause pain around the heart and chest
Angina is a heart condition that occurs when one of the main arteries in the heart becomes blocked. The blockage reduces the amount of oxygen that the heart is able to absorb, and the tissues start to become stressed. Some blood still flows to the heart though, and this means the tissues do not die as the result of the condition. Angina is often accompanied by pain that spreads to the arms, legs, neck, and back.
Pericarditis causes pain, because the tissues that make up the exterior wall of the heart become inflamed. This may be due to an infection or a build up of fluids around the muscle. If you have pericarditis, you will feel sharp stabbing pains around the heart and upper body. Also, the discomfort will worsen when you breathe deeply or eat food.
A heart attack occurs when the heart is not able to receive oxygen due to a blockage in one of the main arteries. Plaque that slowly builds within the blood vessels is responsible for the blockage. Blood cannot flow to the heart in the area where the blockage is located, and this causes some of the heart tissues to die. If you are having a heart attack, you will be unable to breath and you will sweat and feel dizzy.
What Will a Doctor Do?
Heart Attack Testing
As soon as you arrive at a clinic or hospital, a physician will start to conduct tests to see if you are having a heart attack. An electrocardiogram (ECG) will be performed that shows your heart rhythm. Your blood will be taken right away as well to see if your body contains enzymes that have been released by dying heart tissues. X-rays may be completed as well so the doctor can see if your heart is enlarged or if your lungs contain fluid.
If the tests indicate that you are experiencing a heart attack, you will be given medicine that breaks up clots within your arteries. Oxygen and medicine that reduces your heart rate will be provided as well. You also may be scheduled for a surgical procedure. During the procedure, a small balloon is inflated within your blocked heart artery to open up the blood vessel.
If tests indicate that you are not having a heart attack, a CT scan, MRI, stress test, an angiogram, and an echocardiogram are completed. These tests help the doctor to diagnose a heart condition that is less serious than a heart attack. After test results are considered, you will be asked to take blood thinners, blood pressure medication, or anti-anxiety drugs. You may also need a stent or bypass surgery in the future.
What if it is Not a Heart Problem?
Sometimes, the lungs may be in ill health when your chest hurts. If x-rays or other tests reveal a deflated lung, then a tube will be used to reinflate it. Pneumonia or other types of lung distress may be a concern as well, and you will be given fluids and oxygen, and you may need to be placed on a ventilator. If a clot is seen within the lung tissues, then you will be given clot dissolving medication to remove the blockage.
Medical professionals at hospitals and clinics are aware that chest pain indicates that you are having a serious medical problem. There are many heart and lung ailments that can cause chest pain and learning about them can prepare you for an emergency situation. Read more about this topic.