It stings in your chest and your heart seems to be pounding, but is it dangerous – don’t listen to strange symptoms for long

Chest pain can come from the heart or lungs, but also from the abdominal cavity. Anxiety can also weigh on the chest.

If the pain is severe, squeezing, or worsens on exertion, or is accompanied by shortness of breath or nausea, seeing a doctor should not be delayed. A completely new type of ailment is also worth exploring.

Because the treatment?

Sometimes it is difficult to deduce the cause of chest pain. For example, pain due to pancreatitis may resemble a heart attack.

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As a rule of thumb, if the pain lasts for more than twenty minutes and is not relieved by changing position, you should seek emergency care as soon as possible.

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Could it be a heart attack?

Myocardial infarction is the worst fear for many. Myocardial pain is compressive, heavy and extensive. It often radiates from behind the sternum to the back, left hand, shoulders, neck, or jaws. The skin is pale and cold sweaty, many may feel sick and suffer from shortness of breath.

However, especially in diabetics, chest pain may feel milder, as diabetes causes nerve damage and alters the sensation of pain.

The pain is due to the accumulation of cholesterol and inflammatory cells in the walls of the coronary arteries and narrowing of the veins. The fragile area can also rupture, causing the blood clot to clog the vessel. If the heart muscle does not get enough oxygen, it will die.

The pains must not be left to be listened to. Especially women who pat their spouses to the doctor delay their own seeking treatment. Many try to do a self-diagnosis at home and wait for the pain to go away.

What about myocarditis?

Myocarditis and pericarditis are sometimes difficult to distinguish. In both, the pain may resemble a heart attack in the chest. But the pain can also be pungent and vary with breathing and posture. Shortness of breath, arrhythmias and fatigue may be associated with pain.

The pericardium is the sac-like membrane surrounding the myocardium. When the heart muscle becomes inflamed, it usually also becomes somewhat inflamed. Active athletes who do not take a break from exercise are particularly susceptible to myocarditis.

What if chest pain comes under exertion?

Coronary artery pain strikes especially during physical exertion, such as climbing stairs, even when walking. It is usually squeezing and can radiate to the back, left hand, shoulders, neck and jaw.

Sometimes the pain can be burning or felt especially in the upper abdominal area. Sometimes the main symptom is shortness of breath.

In coronary artery disease, the arteries in the heart constrict, creating a lack of oxygen to the heart muscle. However, the arteries do not become completely blocked, as in a heart attack.

How do I recognize a pulmonary embolism?

A pulmonary embolism should be suspected if severe shortness of breath, cough, or chest pain begins after a long flight or train ride. Age, pregnancy and the use of e-pills also slightly increase the risk of disease.

A pulmonary embolism begins with a blood clot in the calf or thigh that has set in motion with the venous circulation and clogs the pulmonary artery. Treatment must be started immediately.

What else can hurt your chest?

Pancreatitis and other visceral disorders may resemble myocardial infarction. Pancreatitis is characterized by sudden, radiating banded abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and shortness of breath.

Also, in a gallstone attack, the pain can be so severe as to vomit. During a pain attack, the smooth muscles of the gallbladder press against the gallstones.

Pneumonia is characterized by side and abdominal pain, stabbing chest pain and shortness of breath.

Pneumonia is treated with antibiotics. If necessary, the medication is given intravenously in a hospital.

Risto Jussila, Cardiology and Internal Medicine Specialist, Heart Hospital, Erkki Isometsä, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Helsinki and Olli Heinonen, Chief Physician, Mehiläinen Turku

This article has appeared in Good Health magazine. As a subscriber, you can read all numbers free of charge from the service.

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