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Chest pain

Heart attack symptoms
Jaw pain and heart attacks

Definition

Chest pain is discomfort or pain that you feel anywhere along the front of your body between your neck and upper abdomen.

Alternative Names

Chest tightness; Chest pressure; Chest discomfort

Considerations

Many people with chest pain fear a heart attack. However, there are many possible causes of chest pain. Some causes are not dangerous to your health, while other causes are serious and, in some cases, lifethreatening.

Any organ or tissue in your chest can be the source of pain, including your heart, lungs, esophagus, muscles, ribs, tendons, or nerves. Pain may also spread to the chest from the neck, abdomen, and back.

Causes

Heart or blood vessel problems that can cause chest pain:

Lung problems that can cause chest pain:

Other causes of chest pain:

Chest pain can also be due to the following digestive system problems:

In children, most chest pain is not caused by the heart.

Home Care

For most causes of chest pain, it is best to check with your health care provider before treating yourself at home.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call 911 if:

Your risk of having a heart attack is greater if:

Call your provider if:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your provider may ask questions such as:

The types of tests that are done depend on the cause of the pain, and what other medical problems or risk factors you have.

References

Amsterdam EA, Wenger NK, Brindis RG, et al. 2014 AHA/ACC guideline for the management of patients with non-ST-elevation acute coronary syndromes: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014;64(24):e139-e228. PMID: 25260718 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25260718.

Goldman L. Approach to the patient with possible cardiovascular disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 51.

O'Gara PT, Kushner FG, Ascheim DD, et al. 2013 ACCF/AHA guideline for the management of ST-elevation myocardial infarction: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013;61(4):e78-e140. PMID: 23256914 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23256914.

Sabatine MS, Cannon CP. Approach to the patient with chest pain. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 50.


Review Date: 5/5/2016
Reviewed By: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.