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Is your chest pain a sign of a heart attack, or something else?

Sharp chest pain: Is it a heart attack or something else?

Chest pain isn't always as bad as you might think. That doesn't mean you should ignore the pain, of course. It could signal something serious. Below are some of the probable causes of your chest pain.

Written by Satata Karmakar |Updated : December 12, 2020 11:54 AM IST

Chest pain is frightening and must be taken seriously. So know this: If you are having severe discomfort in the chest especially if the chest pain is radiating to your neck, jaw, or arms and it's accompanied by shortness of breath, dizziness, and sweating, you know your condition is serious and you need to visit the hospital ASAP!

But sometimes chest pain isn't a heart attack. It might have a different cardiac cause or be totally unrelated to your heart. Here, in this article, we tell you what your body is trying to tell you through those sudden chest pain.

Chest pain isn't always as bad as you might think. That doesn't mean you should ignore the pain, of course. It could signal something serious. Below are some of the probable causes of your chest pain.

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This is the most common type of noncardiac chest pain. It can include acid reflux, esophageal spasm, and acidity. When chest pain particularly pain in the lower chest is triggered by a meal, it is likely to emanate from the digestive system, rather than from the heart, and can be due to the following:

#Acid Reflux: Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), can cause a burning sensation in your throat or chest classic heartburn. But sometimes, GERD can cause sharp chest pain and pressure.

#Oesophageal Spasm: Sudden, forceful contractions of the esophagus, the muscular tube between the mouth and the stomach, can be painful. These spasms can also trap food in the esophagus and prevent it from passing into the stomach. You may feel the pain in your chest as a signal that something went wrong inside your esophagus.


Sudden and sharp chest pain could also signal a pulmonary embolism - a clot that lodges in the lungs. This is a serious health condition and you must know the other symptoms as well. These include shortness of breath, pale skin, racing heart, and cough.


Tissues in the chest cavity can become inflamed due to injury, infection, or autoimmune conditions, in which the body's immune cells attack its own tissues. Common inflammatory causes of chest pain include the following.

#Costochondritis: This condition, an inflammation in the chest wall between the ribs and the breastbone, can trigger a stabbing, aching pain that's often mistaken for a heart attack. This condition occurs due to trauma or overuse injuries.

#Pericarditis: This specific health condition is an inflammation of the pericardium, a protective, double-layered sac surrounding the heart. It has many different possible causes, including a virus or other infection, certain illnesses, an injury to the chest, radiation therapy for cancer, or a reaction to medications.


This pain is caused when you pull a muscle or injure a bone. It often occurs after patients have done physical activities. If you recently hauled a heavy box or worked out too hard at the weight gym, you might have developed a case of costochondritis inflammation of the cartilage around the sternum. A bad case can cause significant pain.


Typical heart attack pain is similar to the pain of coronary artery disease: A heaviness, tightness, or pressure. A heart attack requires immediate emergency care. Some of the significant symptoms may also include sweating, nausea, pain that radiates to the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, faint feeling, and shortness of breathing.


Any time you're uncertain about the source of chest pain that is recurrent or lasts for several days, you should see your doctor. Or, as said above, if you are experiencing severe forms of any of the above-mentioned symptoms, you must run to the hospital ASAP!

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