Chest pain

Chest pain is a broad term for any pain, tightness or discomfort felt in the chest area. In most cases, it is something minor and goes away. However, it can be serious so if you have new symptoms of chest pain, you should seek medical help right now.

Call 111 immediately if you have chest pain that:
  • lasts more than 15 minutes
  • feels like crushing pain or pressure in your chest
  • also started with nausea, sweating, dizziness or shortness of breath.
You could be having a heart attack. Call 111 straight away as you need immediate treatment in hospital.
See your GP if:
  • you have chest pain that comes and goes
  • you have chest pain that goes away quickly but you are still worried
  • you have been diagnosed with angina but your symptoms change.
Ring Healthline 0800 611 116 for advice now if you are unsure what to do.

Do NOT diagnose yourself from this information or anything you find on the internet. Also, do not just talk with family or friends. You need to talk to a health professional who can give you proper advice.

What causes chest pain?

There are many causes of chest pain ranging from sore muscles, prolonged coughing, costochondritis (an inflammation of joints in your chest) or indigestion through to panic attacks, heart, lung, back, shoulder or gall bladder problems.  

The reason chest pain is important is even mild chest tightness or discomfort can be the first sign of something more serious such as a heart attack or clot in the lung.

Your heart forecast

These are some of the serious causes of chest pain which need to be excluded:

  • pulmonary embolus (a clot in one of the blood vessels in the lungs)
  • angina (pain from the heart due to reduced blood supply)
  • a heart attack (blockage of one of the blood vessels supplying the heart)
  • percarditis (inflammation around your heart
  • pneumonia
  • a tear in an artery in your heart
  • lung cancer or other cancers.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause of the pain so do not just take an indigestion tablet and hope it will go away. 

  • If you get panic attacks, follow your panic attack action plan. 
  • If you get angina, follow your angina/chest pain action plan. 
  • If you have acid reflux or indigestion problems, follow the advice you have been given and get help if this doesn't settle as expected. 
  • Advice needs to be tailored for you. 

Learn more

Credits: Health Navigator team.