Chest pain is scary. It is natural when someone gets a sudden, shocking chest pain to think of the heart right away, but more usually sharp chest pains have another explanation. Non-cardiac chest pain is exactly what it sounds: chest pain (new or chronic) that has no heart-related cause and is instead triggered by muscles, another organ or another type of health condition.
Common Causes of Non-Cardiac Chest Pain
The following conditions are just some of the many that can produce alarming chest pain:
- Anxiety – anxiety or panic attacks can produce symptoms that are very similar to (and often confused with) heart symptoms. They may include: chest pain, high heart rate, sweating, stomach upset and panic. Usually the chest pain is a sharper type in panic attacks.
- Pleurisy or pneumonia – pleurisy is when fluid accumulates around the lungs and causes infection-like symptoms along with chest pain. Pneumonia similarly causes chest discomfort along with infection and flu-like symptoms.
- GERD – Gastroesophageal reflux disorder can cause heartburn as well as chest pain or pressure from acid that backs up the esophagus.
- Costochondritis – is an extremely painful but non-life-threatening condition whereby the costal cartilage (which connects the ribs to the sternum) becomes inflamed, causing chest wall pain and tenderness.
- Asthma or COPD – those with chronic respiratory disorders often experience chest pain and tightness due to swelling of the structures in the lungs. This type of chest pain is usually followed by an asthma attack or coughing fit.
- Shingles can cause a burning pain in the chest or back before the rash develops.
- Pancreatitis usually begins with a sudden or gradual pain in the upper abdomen or chest that radiates to the back. This is usually accompanied by fever, weakness and general malaise.
- Gall Bladder disease – gallstones or gallbladder swelling is often initially mistaken for a heart attack by the sufferer as it can produce similar symptoms such as terrible chest pain or stomach upset.
Don’t Take Chances!
Just because there are other potential causes of chest pain does not mean you shouldn’t seek medical attention for chest pain. You should always seek medical advice for new chest pain, as it can be heart-related, and many of the other causes, like pneumonia, can also be serious. If you are experiencing tightness in your arm, dizziness, faintness or stomach upset along with your chest pain, be sure to seek emergency medical attention.
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