Although chest pain might be a symptom of heart disease, there are several additional explanations. While some of them are significant disorders, most of them are not. Chest pain is the second highest cause of ER visits, accounting for roughly 8 million visits each year. Chest pain affects 20–40% of the global population.

Learn about some of the probable causes of chest discomfort and other symptoms that might help you identify them in this article.

Heart-Related Conditions

Pain in the chest may be caused by a variety of cardiac conditions.

Heart Attack

One of the five basic signs of a heart attack is chest discomfort. The others are as follows:

  • Jaw, neck, and back pain.
  • Weakness or lightheadedness.
  • Arm or shoulder discomfort.
  • Breathing difficulties

Females, in particular, may feel unexpected exhaustion, nausea, or vomiting.

If a person suspects they are experiencing a heart attack, they should seek immediate medical attention. The sooner a person arrives to the ER, the sooner treatment may begin.

Getting therapy as soon as possible improves a person’s chances of survival and may lessen the degree of cardiac damage.

What are the symptoms of a heart attack?


Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart that causes symptoms comparable to a heart attack, such as:

chest discomfort

breathing difficulty

erratic or rapid pulse


Angina is characterized by a squeezing discomfort or pressure in the chest. It happens when not enough blood reaches the heart. A person may also experience discomfort in the following areas:

shoulder, back, neck, arms, jaw.

Angina may mimic dyspepsia.

It is a manifestation of coronary artery disease.

Aneurism and dissection of the aorta

Aortic dissection is a rip or separation of the aorta’s inner layers, which is the primary artery leading from the heart. This may cause blood to accumulate in the artery.

An aortic aneurysm is a ballooning of the aorta.

Both disorders have the potential to rupture or burst the aorta.

Aortic dissection and significant aortic aneurysm are medical emergencies that need rapid attention.

A stable aortic aneurysm may not need immediate treatment.

Dissection of the coronary arteries

Coronary artery dissection occurs when the coronary artery wall tears. When the deepest layer splits, blood may flow through and cause a bulge. It may result in a heart attack.

A coronary artery dissection symptom is sudden acute pain that seems to “rip” across the chest, neck, back, or belly.

This is an uncommon yet dangerous disease. According to the American Heart Association (AHA)Trusted Source, doctors do not know why it occurs, but it may affect individuals who do not have the typical risk factors for heart disease.


The inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart is known as pericarditis.

It may lead to:

  • Terrible discomfort behind the breast bone in the chest
  • Fluid accumulation around the heart

When fluid pushes on the heart, this is referred to as cardiac tamponade.

obstructive shock occurs when the heart is unable to adequately fill with blood.

When a person breathes in or lies down, their pain may be severe, but it improves when they sit up or lean forward.

It is generally caused by a viral infection, although there are several additional possibilities.

Prolapse of the mitral valve

A mitral valve prolapse occurs when a heart valve is unable to completely seal. This illness may have no evident symptoms in mild forms.

Symptoms that may develop include

  • Fast heartbeat
  • Pain in the chest
  • Fatigue

Cardiomyopathy with hypertrophy

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy occurs when the heart thickens as a result of hereditary causes. The thickening of the heart stops blood from flowing adequately from the heart, forcing the muscle to work very hard to pump blood.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy symptoms include

  • Chest pain
  • Alterations in heart rhythm
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Foot, ankle, leg, and abdominal swelling.

Anyone who observes this should get medical attention right away since it may develop over time and lead to additional concerns including blood clots and heart failure.

Lung Related Conditions

Chest discomfort may be caused by a variety of lung diseases.

Pulmonary hypertension

High blood pressure in the arteries that deliver blood to the lungs is referred to as pulmonary hypertension. This may cause chest discomfort in certain people.

It may happen for a variety of causes and result in

When exercising, you may experience shortness of breath and dizziness.

Leaning down causes shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling caused by fluid accumulation.

Although pulmonary hypertension is not generally life-threatening, it does need medical treatment.


Pleurisy is an inflammation of the lining of the lungs.

Among the symptoms are

  • Ache in the chest or shoulders
  • The discomfort worsens when you breathe, cough, sneeze, or move your trunk or chest wall.
  • The discomfort might be subtle, painful, or “catching.”
  • It may lead to life-threatening consequences if not treated.
  • Pleurisy may have an impact on the upper back.


Lung infections, such as pneumonia, may produce severe or stabbing chest discomfort, particularly while coughing or inhaling heavily.

Other pneumonia symptoms include:

  • Fever, perspiration, and chills
  • Coughing up phlegm that may be green, yellow, or blood-tinged
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Lips with a blue tint or fingertips
  • Shallow, fast breathing
  • Reduced appetite, weariness, and low energy.
  • Vomiting and nausea (in young children)
  • Confusion (in older people).

A person experiencing respiratory difficulties needs prompt medical assistance since pneumonia may be fatal.

Embolism of the lungs

A pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot becomes stuck in an artery that supplies blood to the lungs.

Symptoms include:

  • Chest pain, particularly when inhaling
  • Back ache
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Spitting up blood
  • Leg swelling or discomfort
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
  • Hypoxia is characterized by a blue hue to the lips or nails.

Without prompt treatment, pulmonary embolisms may be fatal.

What are the chances of a pulmonary embolism after surgery?


COVID-19 patients may develop breathing symptoms, discomfort, or chest tightness.

If a person has, they should seek emergency medical attention.

The symptoms includes:

  • chronic chest pain or pressure
  • breathing problems
  • blue lips or blue nails
  • Confusion
  • Having difficulties staying awake


Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial illness of the lungs.

It may result in

  • chest pain
  • a severe cough that may result in the production of blood or sputum
  • slimming down
  • nocturnal sweats and a fever

TB was almost invariably deadly in the past. Antibiotics can typically cure it effectively nowadays.


Asthma is a common respiratory illness characterized by airway inflammation that may cause chest discomfort.

Other signs and symptoms include:

  • chest constriction
  • breathing difficulty
  • coughing
  • wheezing

Lung collapse

Pneumothorax occurs when air accumulates in the area between the lungs and the ribs, resulting in a collapsed lung.

Some individuals have no symptoms, although the following things may happen:

  • chest soreness that may spread to the shoulder
  • breathing difficulties
  • quicker pace of breathing
  • breathing difficulty
  • one side of the chest swollen
  • decreased breathing sounds

Another cause of pneumothorax is a perforated lung.

Digestive and gastrointestinal-related conditions

The following conditions have an impact on digestive organs. 
Chest pain is a symptom.


Pancreatitis is a pancreatic inflammation. Gallstones are the most common cause of acute pancreatitis. Chronic pancreatitis is caused by hereditary factors or excessive alcohol intake.

Someone may notice

  • upper abdomen discomfort that might start abruptly or gradually, be moderate or severe, and linger for many days
  • abdomen swelling or painful
  • vomiting and nausea
  • fever
  • ache radiating to the back

If someone detects these symptoms for the first time, they should seek medical attention right once.

What exactly is the difference between acute and chronic pancreatitis?

Spasms in the esophagus

Spasms or contractions in the food pipe are referred to as esophageal contraction disorders.

Among the symptoms are

  • chest pain
  • swallowing difficulties
  • regurgitation
  • heartburn

These conditions may also induce chest discomfort.

Hypersensitivity of the esophagus

Sensations that are not normally uncomfortable might induce extreme discomfort in a person with esophageal hypersensitivity.

Experts are unsure why this occurs, although cells in the gullet may be especially susceptible to acid. Stress may cause symptoms in persons who are prone to them.

Rupture of the esophagus

If the food pipe breaks, this might cause severe chest discomfort. An esophageal rupture may develop as a result of an esophageal operation or a severe injury.

Other potential symptoms include:

  • Vomiting and retching
  • touching the chest produces a crackling sound
  • Breathing difficulties or fast breathing

Peptic Ulcers

Peptic ulcers are lesions on the lining of the stomach.

They may result in

  • After-meal abdominal or upper abdominal ache
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting, perhaps including blood

They seldom cause severe pain, although they might cause persistent chest discomfort.

Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD)

When the contents of the stomach travel back up into the neck, this is referred to be GERD.

It may result in

  • Chest discomfort
  • Regurgitation
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Swallowing trouble or swallowing pain
  • Cough, hoarseness, or other throat symptoms.

GERD is often relieved with over-the-counter antacids.

Other Causes of Chest Pain

Here are some more causes of chest discomfort.

Anxiety attack

A panic attack is a sudden bout of terror or panic. Often, the cause is unknown, although it might be a sign of a disease known as panic disorder.

The person may encounter:

  • Chest discomfort
  • A quick heartbeat
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Trembling and shaking

The symptoms are similar to those of a heart attack.

To assist treat panic disorder, a doctor may give medicines, therapy, or both.

Hernia hiatal

A hiatal hernia occurs when a portion of the stomach protrudes into the chest. This sort of hernia is frequent and may go undetected.

However, GERD symptoms might occur if the top of the stomach presses towards the lower area of the chest after eating.

These are some examples:

  • Chest pain
  • Reflux
  • Heartburn

A hiatal hernia may need surgery in certain situations.


Costochondritis is an inflammation of the rib cage cartilage. It may cause chest pain and tenderness. The discomfort may come on unexpectedly.

Costochondritis discomfort may worsen on:

  • Sitting down
  • Conducting physical activity
  • Deep inhalation
  • Sneeze or coughing

Strain on the muscles

Inflammation of the muscles and tendons around the ribs may cause chronic chest discomfort. If the discomfort worsens with exercise, it might be a sign of a muscular strain.

Ribs injury

Chest pain may be caused by rib injuries such as bruising, breaks, or fractures. If a person has a fractured rib, they may have heard a snap or felt excruciating agony at the moment of the accident.

A person who has a broken rib may have

  • chest or back pain or discomfort
  • an inability to take deep breaths
  • atypical movement of the chest wall

When should you visit a doctor?

It is always recommended to see a doctor if you have unexpected chest pain, particularly if anti-inflammatory drugs do not relieve your symptoms.

If a person has any of the following symptoms, they should seek immediate medical attention:

  • Chest pain radiating to the arms, back, neck, or jaw
  • Chest constriction or heaviness
  • Pain that began with nausea, vomiting, and sweating
  • Breathing difficulties or variations in breathing rate
  • Nail beds or blue lips
  • Intense discomfort lasting more than 15 minutes
  • Confusion

Chest discomfort may be life-threatening in rare circumstances. As a result, it should not be ignored.

Commonly Asked Questions

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions concerning chest pain.

How can I tell if my chest pain is serious?

Severe pain or a squeezing sensation in the chest might indicate a heart attack. Another indicator of potentially significant chest discomfort is trouble breathing. People experiencing these symptoms should seek emergency medical attention.

Why am I experiencing chest pain?

Chest pain may develop for a variety of reasons, including muscular strain or a heart attack. Any form of chest pain should be treated by a doctor, since certain causes might have serious repercussions.

What does it feel like to have chest pain?

This will be determined by the cause. Heavy, squeezing, or radiating chest pain might indicate a cardiac condition. A gastrointestinal condition might be causing your reflux and difficulties swallowing. Breathing problems might suggest a fractured rib, a heart disease, or a lung problem.

In conclusion

Chest pain may occur for a variety of reasons. Often, the additional symptoms that accompany it will provide insight into why the chest discomfort arises.

On the other hand, any significant chest pain requires immediate medical treatment, particularly if it radiates to the arm, back, or neck, if the heart rate increases, or if the individual has difficulty breathing.

To rule out life-threatening reasons and get the right care, anybody with concerns about chest pain should see a doctor.